Context: The origins, purpose, function, results and value of music
In mid 2006, our Victoria Sings program was scheduled for a large-scale evaluation. While negotiating the form this would take, the contracted experts stated that so little research had been done on the health impacts of group music-making that a significant portion of the project should be devoted to illustrating these effects. Our Executive Officer, Jon Hawkes, demured; he opined (without really being absolutely sure) that there actually was a huge body of research, perhaps rendered invisible because it occurred across such a wide range of disciplines. His suggestion was rejected, the Victoria Sings evaluation didn't happen (but that's another story), and thus began this section of our website.
(A little diversion: turns out Jon isn't the only one who thinks the point has already been proved; the Arts and Health Working Group in the UK reached a similar conclusion a year later)
We had never really bothered much with research before - the benefits of making music together had always seemed totally obvious to us, and our top priority was to help get it happening more widely, rather than to be able explain why it was so important. But the world has changed: it's increasingly difficult to raise the dosh without being able to provide 'the evidence'. So, for our own needs, and as an aid to others finding themselves in a similar position, we decided to bring together what we could find of the intersections between music-making and scientific investigation and analysis.
A year and a half later, we are more than a bit overwhelmed at the amount of material we've found (nearly 2,500 entries) - and at a bit of a loss about how to make it useful. Long lists are impressive but not very accessible. Our method has been to record the bare essentials and to link each item to a web source, but even so, it's not hard to imagine the onset of scrolling overload.
We put our findings together into six sections.