they say an apple a day keeps the doctor away…
…How about playing the Ukulele?
In the last decade there has been a massive growth in research over the benefits of group musical activity. We got in touch with one of these researchers, a Dr Jacques Launey of Brunel University whose research was based on choirs but who strongly believes could apply to any group musical activity:
“While singers have known for a long time that singing is a great activity, scientists are catching up, and working out what causes such positive effects”
Physiologically we now have strong evidence that singing:
- leads to a reduction in cortisol.
- can lead to an increase in immunoglobulin A.
- leads to activation of a whole network of cytokines, which are also involved in our immune response.
- Emerging evidence for changes in oxytocin andendorphin levels.
He continues: “At a psychological level, singing increases positive moodand decreases stress. In addition to these psychological and physiological effects, evidence suggests that singing is an especially good social bonding activity, and music could even have evolved specifically to help humans create communities.
Recent reviews into health suggest a strong community is one of the most important predictors of how long people live (better even than quitting smoking!), so anything that strengthens social relationships is very important to our wellbeing.
Taken together this evidence shows that musical activity in a group is effective because it increases happiness, decreases stress, and makes us socially connected – all of this leads to a stronger immune response, and reduced risk of health problems”
An extract from UKE Magazine, written by Heidi Swedberg
In 2017 the U.K. appointed a Minister of Loneliness to address what has been identified as a threat to public health: isolation. 9 million adults in the U.K. say that they are ‘always’ or ‘often’ lonely. Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, has said, loneliness and isolation is as “bad for you” as “smoking 15 cigarettes a day” and “worse than obesity”. It is, according to former Prime Minister Theresa May, “one of the greatest public health challenges of our time”.
Andy Nazer, England’s campaign manager at The Campaign To End Loneliness, says, “The issue of loneliness is now recognised as a determinant for poor health, effecting people throughout the whole of their life course. It does not discriminate. It has never been more important to develop new ways to reignite – or in many cases introduce – a sense of passion, purpose and connection into people’s lives. Research has shown that new relationships develop faster and are stronger if they are founded on a shared experience. What better way to bring people together than through an accessible, inclusive initiative like this excellent one from The London Ukulele Project.”
“There are numerous positive outcomes to be derived from the work of the LUP” says Mr. Nazer, “expanding the mind through learning a new instrument, sharing, making music together are a couple of obvious outcomes but by far the most significant is that it is fun! And if something is fun – people will come, experience, enjoy, open their minds, lower some of the barriers that society has put in place that prevent us from making new connections and start to lay the foundations towards building new relationships. And it is the combination of these vital elements that will help build bridges between people, support them to reconnect with those around them and ultimately play a part in tackling the loneliness that is increasingly prevalent in our society today.”