Singing for health may be an idea whose time has come. The interest in music in relation to health is evident in medical and health‐care research. This paper reviews ways in which music and singing relate to health and healing, historically and cross‐culturally, and shows that music forms a part of the healing systems of many cultures. The paper reviews research on the links between music and health. They include studies that suggest that music has profound effects on the emotions, for example, inducing states of relaxation which are particularly useful as an antidote to depression, anxiety and fatigue. Music has also been shown to enhance physical health through improvements to breathing capacity, muscle tension and posture and the reduction of respiratory symptoms. It may also contribute to social health through the management of self‐identity and interpersonal relationships. The paper explores theories that are beginning to develop about the mechanisms that mediate music for health, including the possible connections between immuno‐suppression, stress reduction, and music. The paper goes on to discuss the role of singing with early years children and community groups of adults. A resurgence of traditional music‐making and voice work in community settings is taking place across the UK, and the paper reviews several community‐based initiatives.
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