Small music programs for mental health and well-being: an evaluation framework
While there is growing interest in the intersection of music and health, current scientific literature in this field often lacks the rigor and strength of studies grounded in quantitative research. Also, a lack of framework to organize data decentralizes the information. The broad definition and subjective nature of music makes it difficult to design evaluations that would yield strong evidence to support the holistic benefits on well-being. This paper proposes a three-category framework to organize raw data to trace the interactions and interlinked nature of the effects of participating in group music activities. The proposed method was used to evaluate two choirs in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), UK: the Sing to Live, Live to Sing in 2016, a singing program based in community centers across RBKC, and the GLUE Sings program, an adolescent music-making and singing program piloted by the Tabernacle W11 in 2018 to increase community engagement and participation after the 2017 Grenfell Fire. Both programs were found to better the holistic well-being of their respective participants. While the framework is useful in these evaluations, future research would benefit even more through utilizing mixed methodologies and increasing collaboration amongst funders, researchers, and program managers.
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