Opera North Blog

Music and Motherhood: Singing for Health


New research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry has shown that group singing could help new mums recover from postnatal depression more quickly.

The study was led by researchers from the Centre for Performance Science who divided 134 mothers with symptoms of postnatal depression into three groups to explore the effect of various activities in the first 40 weeks after birth. One group received the care that is traditionally offered, the second took part in group play workshops, while the final group received 10 weeks of group singing workshops which encouraged the mums to learn and sing songs with their babies while also creating new pieces to reflect their experiences of motherhood.

When the results were analysed, the women with moderate to severe postnatal depression in the singing group reported a faster improvement in their symptoms than the mothers in the group receiving the usual care. No significant difference was discernible in the the speed of recovery for mothers who took part in the group play sessions when compared with the traditional care group, as outlined in a summary of the reseach findings. ​Postnatal depression is estimated to affect one in eight new mothers, and can also be a problem for fathers, although far less commonly. Early recovery is crucial to minimise the effect on mum and baby. 

Postnatal depression is debilitating for mothers and their families, yet our research indicates that for some women something as accessible as singing with their baby could help to speed up recovery at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives.

- Dr Rosie Perkins, lead researcher, Centre for Performance Science 

Opera North has long believed in the benefits of people singing together and in providing opportunities for parents to bond with their children over music. Each week the Company offers Little Singers sessions for children from birth to school-age with their accompanying mums, dads and carers in the Howard Assembly RoomMorley Town Hall, Cast DoncasterColton Primary School and, the latest addition, East Riding Theatre in Beverley. 

Bring-Along-A-Baby-Choir also resumes next month in the Howard Assembly Roomenabling parents with babies under one to enjoy all the fun and benefits of group singing in a warm, friendly environment with the reassurance that their little ones will be actively welcomed. This term includes a session at Leeds Central Library on Monday 5 February which will follow the library's popular Multi-Sensory Social group.

Little Singers      
Howard Assembly Room Monday 10.15am £6 per child; £1 for siblings under 1
Morley Town Hall Monday 11.15am £5 per child, pay on the door
Cast, Doncaster Wednesday 10.00am £3.50 per child, book via Cast
Colton Primary School Thursday 10.00am £4.00 per child, pay on the door
East Riding Theatre, Beverley Thursday 10.30am £5.00 per child, book via ERT
Howard Assembly Room Monday 1.00pm £6.00 per session or 6 for £30

Photo Credits:
Justin Slee


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