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Singing and Synchrony: Missing group activities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Singing and Synchrony: Missing group activities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Presenter Name:Olivia Jewell

School/Affiliation:Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

Co-Authors:Lauren Stewart, Jacques Launay


Recently, there has been interest in the relationship between music and social bonding (e.g. Kirschner & Tomasello, 2010, Pearce et al., 2015; Weinstein et al., 2016). Choirs feel more bonded after singing (Weinstein et al, 2016), and singing groups can bond more quickly than other types of social group (Pearce et al., 2016). A relationship has also been identified between synchrony and affiliation (e.g. Hove & Risen 2009, Demos et al., 2011), and some have explored whether this is a mechanism that affects bonding during music making (e.g. Tarr et al., 2015).

The current study investigated music making during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated isolation periods. People who normally attended group activities (n = 632) were surveyed about what their groups did together, whether the group had adapted, how much they missed meeting their groups, and what aspects of the group activity they missed most.

Results indicate that members of singing groups missed participating in their groups more than members of exercise-based groups or other groups (e.g. book clubs, game groups), even if the group was able to adapt. Although friendship, physical contact, and emotion regulation were missed similarly across the three groups, synchronous movement was an element missed by far more singing group members than members of the other groups. This was the case regardless whether participants were able to adapt their group activity. Synchronous movement could be a mechanism for explaining differences in social bonding across different group activities and future research is necessary to test this empirically.

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