Does attending community music interventions lead to changes in wider musical behaviours? The effect of mother-infant singing classes on musical behaviours amongst mothers with symptoms of postnatal depression

Fancourt, D. and Perkins, R. (2017) Does attending community music interventions lead to changes in wider musical behaviours? The effect of mother-infant singing classes on musical behaviours amongst mothers with symptoms of postnatal depression. Psychology of Music, 47 (1). pp. 132-143. ISSN 0305-7356 (print) 1741-3087 (online)

Abstract

There is a growing body of research exploring how music interventions impact on wider behaviours in people’s lives, such as anti-social behaviours, classroom behaviours and consumer behaviours. However, an understudied area is whether engagement in structured music programmes leads to wider changes in musical behaviours amongst participants. This study explored this question in relation to women with symptoms of postnatal depression (PND). Ninety-three women up to 40 weeks post-birth with symptoms of PND were randomised to 10 weeks of group singing classes or usual care. Women who attended the singing workshops had a significantly greater increase than those in the control group in the frequency of their singing, their confidence in singing and the repertoire they knew. There were also indications that the partners of women in the singing group also increased their frequency of singing, suggesting effects can extend to the wider family unit. However, there was no impact on wider musical behaviours such as listening to music. This is the first demonstration that weekly singing programmes can alter musical behaviours in new mothers. Analyses explore the optimum number of singing classes required to trigger a wider behaviour change and health psychology theories around behaviour change that could account for these results are discussed.

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