Scientists have confirmed what the contestants in Gareth Malone’s Naked Choir knew all along – nothing compares with singing for bringing people together.
The Oxford University team tested the theory by inviting volunteers to take part in one of seven singing, crafts or creative writing courses.
Surveys were conducted to find out how close people taking part in the once weekly, seven-month-long courses felt to their classmates.
Lead researcher Dr Eiluned Pearce, an experimental psychologist, said: “The difference between the singers and the non-singers appeared right at the start of the study.
“In the first month, people in the singing classes became much closer to each other over the course of a single class than those in the other classes did.
“Singing broke the ice better than the other activities, getting the group together faster by giving a boost to how close classmates felt towards each other right at the start of the course.”
Participants in all the activities gradually got to know one another, said the scientists writing in the Royal Society’s Open Science journal.
At the end of the seven months, all the classes were reporting similar levels of closeness.
But singing stood out as a powerful bonding force that acted rapidly on a whole group of individuals at once.
Co-author Dr Jacques Launay, also from Oxford University, said: “Evidence suggests that the really special thing that music does for us is encourage social bonding between whole groups of people playing and dancing together.”
Howard Croft, project manager at adult education providers the Workers’ Educational Association, which helped set up the study, said: “Feeling connected to those around you, be it friends or family, is one of the key ways to improve your well-being ... singing together is a uniquely communal experience that can foster better relations between people from all walks of life.”
BBC Two’s Naked Choir, presented by Malone, set out to find Britain’s most talented a capella (singing without instruments) vocal group. Three choirs competed in the final of the series screened last night.