Work in Progress

Work in progress:

Community Research Project: Exploring links between music and well-being

Who are we and what are we doing

  • Dr Krishna Bhatti: PhD in health psychology, with experience in community research

  • Harvy Singh: Linguistics MA, with a background in psychology and anthropology

Music has brought our academic paths and personal interests together, as we are working on a collaborative research project to explore the effects, influences, and benefits of music on peoples’ well-being (artists/performers as well as fans/listeners). We are aiming to look deeper into what the music we listen to/create can tell us about ourselves, and how an increased awareness may enhance our understanding of our own emotional regulation as well as our identities, personalities and more.

We are planning to present a webinar on June 21st 2021 (a significant date as it is World Music Day) with the hopes of generating interest in, and increase the accessibility of music related research in a way that can be understood and used directly by anyone in any community. 

What we want to do:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of how music can impact lives

  • Increase self-awareness by understanding how we interact with music

  • Make its benefits more easily understood and used more consciously by anyone

  • Potentially discover new questions that haven’t been considered yet

  • Generate ideas for easily accessible community focused strategies, organised events, studies, implementation of research outcomes etc

We would like to create an online platform where people can view articles, research, projects, community-focussed events, discuss ideas and converse with the authors through a message board/forum and be encouraged to give input that will be valued and considered in research that is ultimately aimed at benefiting them. This would help bring both worlds closer together (in terms of academics and non-academics), possibly increasing the value of such research.

Main premise of our approach: 

The music you listen to is the soundtrack to your life. What is your own personal music/life narrative? What can the music we listen to tell us about ourselves? e.g. does music taste reflect a persons’ personality, intellect, life journey, identity and awareness about oneself and their surroundings, emotional regulation ability?

Why this research is relevant and applicable to everyone:

Music is universal; it has no boundaries and is relevant in everyone’s life in some way. It is an immensely powerful thing that can be engaged with in so many ways, having neurological, emotional and physical effects that can be immensely impactful to peoples’ lives. It links to well-being, identity, culture, values and beliefs, memories, experiences, relationships, happy times, good times and anything in between. It can allow people to understand and vicariously experience other cultures, lifestyles and worlds that would otherwise be unreachable. It can unite people and divide people. It can save lives and end lives. It can start movements and change our cultural landscapes. It can be a source of motivation and empowerment, making us do things we never thought we were capable of. It is a source of knowledge, entertainment, culture, history. It can take on an almost ethereal form and have such an effect on people that transcends boundaries of language – which is why so often people are left speechless by performances or pieces of music. However, while people may be aware of some of these things, many of these relationships are not fully understood by people beyond a surface level, perhaps due to much of this more meaningful information being limited to academic circles or have as of yet been unexplored.

What impact we think this could lead to:

By conducting this type of research in a way that is not limited to academic circles, we can share and implement this knowledge directly with individuals and communities. Since a lot of research is limited to journals and written in a way that is not always easily accessible to many people and often behind a pay wall, we want to work on a more ‘real’ level that is more suited to practical implementation rather than only academic/theoretical knowledge and understanding. This is why SCRA is a perfect platform, because it serves many disciplines that focus on community research and action. SCRA is also committed to promoting health and wellbeing through novel and creative initiatives for individuals from marginalised communities. SCRA also has a strong global impact on enhancing wellbeing and fostering collaboration where there is division and empowerment and oppression.  

In the same way that people’s exercise and dieting habits are influenced by scientific research and understanding, we can add a deeper level of understanding to how we interact with music and what effect it has on us.

Why artists are a crucial part of what we are doing:

Why we want representation from different genres - to help bring more appreciation to these genres that in some cases people may have certain misconceptions of. But these misconceptions stem from a lack of knowledge and understanding, and we want people to know that regardless of language, culture, genre etc. any music can be accessible and beneficial to people if they understand it more. For example, many people that we know assume that hip-hop, rock and metal is just crazy, mindless, anger inducing music, something they can blame for how people who listen to it behave. But understanding this music more, knowing the lyrics and artists' life stories and experiences that inspired them, can give people an appreciation that they otherwise wouldn’t have without this knowledge. 

Getting the views, opinions and general insight not only from listeners but also from artists themselves is crucial to this research: Ask artists to reflect on their relationship with music throughout their career. What has a career/life in music done for them? Is there anything that has surprised them in this regard when reflecting back on their journey? Do artists have any suggestions for areas of music related research that they might want answers for or just to be explored and understood more? Have they seen any effects of music (good or bad) but don’t know/understand how or why it happens (beyond surface level/basic understanding/assumption)?

It appears to be less likely that people outside of academic circles will seek out this information from such sources (journals, books, etc). So having the voice of artists to get the message out will greatly help attract those people to this and help make it more accessible beyond academic circles.

Existing literature found based on themes, questions, topics etc to be explored more and help uncover gaps in research

Music and identity

Music as a technology of the self (DeNora, 1999)

Music and the Self (Janata, 2009)

Music and Self-Identity (2020)

Awareness_A_Relationship_or_Not - Music and Self-Awareness: A Relationship or Not? (Navarro, 2015)

Culture and identity

Music as Means To Enhance Cultural Awareness and Literacy in the Foreign Language Classroom. (Failoni, 1993)

Teaching Cultural Awareness Through Music (McGraw Hill, 2020)

Singing and cultural understanding: A music education perspective (Ilari, Chen-Haftech, Crawford; 2013)

Preserving culture, language and identity through music and singing

Traditional Music in Community Life: Aspects of Performance, Recordings, and Preservation (Seeger, 1990)

Music as Cultural Heritage (Inawat, 2015)

10 ways music is intrinsically linked to our cultural identity (Ford, 2020)


Music and wellbeing, links to emotional regulation, self-awareness of emotions, how do feelings and emotions translate/relate to music, culture and heritage, memories. Mental, physical and neurological effects of music; Music interventions, etc.

Music therapy, an allied health profession, "is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualised goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program." Music therapy is a broad field!

Are there situations where music helps when nothing else can? If so, what is it about the music that does it?

“Often we see people living with dementia remembering long lost memories due to listening to particular pieces of familiar music; however, even if the person is unable to communicate this memory, we may find that the feeling of this memory still remains.” – Music and Self Identity (2020)

How musical engagement promotes well-being in education contexts: the case of a young man with profound and multiple disabilities (McFerran & Shoemark, 2013)

Music, health, and well-being: A review (MacDonald, 2013)

The psychological functions of music listening (Schäfer et al, 2013)

Music Use for Mood Regulation: Self-Awareness and Conscious Listening Choices in Young People With Tendencies to Depression (Stewart et al, 2019)

Emotion regulation with music in depressed and non-depressed individuals: Goals, strategies, and mechanisms (Sakka & Juslin, 2018)

Language learning enhanced by music and song (Israel, 2013) – impact on mood, atmosphere, mental state, etc and how this enhanced students’ state of mind, behaviours and learning outcomes.

Music and social bonding: “self-other” merging and neurohormonal mechanisms (Tarr, Launay & Dunbar, 2014) – “here we suggest that both self-other merging and the EOS are important in the social bonding effects of music. In order to investigate possible interactions between these two mechanisms, future experiments should recreate ecologically valid examples of musical activities.” [Research can be done in contexts such as concerts, looking at the build up, the live event, and post event impact on both performers and listeners] 

SBSK history (using music to connect with children with special needs) -