Theory & Methods

Research Questions


Will group singing support social well-being and communication function in people living with communication challenges?


Will these benefits accrue over regular engagement with choir?


Will group singing show an added benefit to social wellbeing compared to other group activities?


What are the neurobiological underpinnings of these benefits?

Research Foundations


Although there are many ability-focused activities that older adults can engage in, we contend that group singing may be particularly well suited to enhancing social identity, given the important role of the voice in shaping social identity Many adults will develop acute deficits in vocal production arising from age-associated diseases or milder deficits arising from age-related changes in vocal physiology. Singing directly challenges these deficits, which may result in a positive reconstruction of social identity.

Social identity references: Wertsch, 1991. Blumstein et al., 1980. Torre & Barlow, 2009.

Group singing enables exquisite movement synchronization across individuals, spanning the lungs, larynx, head, and facial muscles. Research by our group and others has demonstrated that synchronous movement in the context of song (or dance) causes individuals to be more likely to share, to be more resilient to pain and to feel more socially connected.

Social connectedness references:

  • Müller & Lindenberger, 2011. Thompson & Russo, 2007.
  • Good, Choma & Russo, 2017.
  • Good & Russo, 2016. Dunbar et al., 2012.
  • Weinstein et al., 2016. Wiltermuth & Heath, 2009.
  • Good, Choma & Russo, 2017. McGarry & Russo, 2011.
  • Pearce et al., 2016.
  • Tunçgenç, & Cohen, 2016.
  • Valdesolo, Ouyang, & DeSteno, 2010. 
  • Cohen et al., 2010. Dunbar et al., 2012. 
  • Sullivan, Rickers, & Gammage, 2014. 
  • Weinstein et al., 2016. Dunbar, 2012.


Variables & Measures


  • Quality of life scale
  • Collective esteem
  • Anxiety & depression
  • Social connectedness
  • Social & emotional loneliness
  • Perceived stress
Communication Outcomes
  • Vocal acoustic measures (e.g. pitch range, duration of sustained vowels)
  • Hearing measures (e.g. speech-in-noise)
  • Fluency measures (e.g. rate of conversational speech and reading)


Possible venues include community health centres, university campuses, hospitals, office spaces, multi-purpose rooms, and arts centre rooms. Criteria for choosing a venue:

  • cost
  • availability
  • location & proximity
  • size
  • accessibility of the building
  • parking close to the building
  • ability to provide refreshments
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