You are not alone: Music for the mind and body

19 September 2023

In today’s busy world, it can be hard to take time for yourself. But did you know that studies have shown that just five minutes of singing can have a positive effect, both physically and mentally? Boosting your mental health, immune system and flooding you with ‘happy hormones’, such as dopamine and endorphins, singing is a fantastic way to take care of yourself.

But singing doesn’t have to be a solely individual pursuit – choirs are a fantastic way of connecting with new people, making new friends, and creating a weekly routine that focusses on singing, and all the benefits it provides. Studies have shown that the social bonding hormone, oxytocin, is released as you sing, perhaps explaining why singing in a group is such an effective icebreaker. 

Welsh National Opera’s Cradle programme is an intergenerational project designed to enrich the lives of people affected by dementia and visit primary schools to raise awareness of the disease, and to increase social empathy and understanding of the disease. Our regular weekly singing sessions, provide a relaxed and social musical experience that help members re-visit fond memories, spark joy and provide comfort to the participants living with the dementia and their loved ones.

While there is currently no cure for dementia, music therapy has been found to have a positive effect in easing some of the symptoms that can occur for people who are struggling with dementia. Research has shown that effective music therapy can alleviate behavioural symptoms like depression and anxiety and help to soothe individuals when they were experiencing symptoms such as agitation. Music has also been shown to improve memory in people with mild Alzheimer’s disease. It is said that music memory is a form of implicit memory, hardwired into the brain, and studies have shown that listening to music can light up the brain in many places, in areas otherwise unreached. Evidence has suggested that the brain has a stronger retention of music heard from the ages of 10-30, and using music to rekindle these memories can have a beneficial effect for the individual.

We aim to bring the wonderful experience and benefits of singing to everyone in our communities, of any age. Our Cradle Choirs bring people together in a safe and social environment, using music and choral singing to help improve the lives of people isolated by dementia. Not only do the sessions help provide the psychological and physical benefits of choral singing, but they also help the members to form new bonds and alleviate loneliness.

It's a warm and supportive environment, something to be treasured

Cradle Choir Participant

If you are interested in joining one of our Cradle Choirs or would like more information, please contact WNO Producer Jennifer Hill on