Musical Activity and Health

Our research projects also explore questions about the relationship between listening to music and making music and health.

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Evaluation of the Prevention Offer at Berlin Music Conservatories to Prevent Performance-Related Complaints in Music Students - An Observational Study

On the basis of an observational study, data will be provided for an initial assessment of the effects of the current music-medical and music-physiological prevention offer of the Kurt Singer Institute for Music Physiology and Musicians (KSI) of the Berlin Music Conservatories, thus the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler Berlin (HfM) and the University of the Arts Berlin (UdK) including the joint jazz institute Berlin (JIB) in terms of musculoskeletal pain, everyday functions, general quality of life and music-specific issues raised in music students of all instrument groups without a singer.

In the bicentric 2-arm observation study a total of 200 music students (age 18-30 years) are to be included, who take part in the prevention offer (N = 100) or not participate (N = 100). The aim is to determine the effects of the ongoing music-medical and music-physiological prevention offer of the aforementioned Berlin conservatoires in comparison to a control group without participation in the prevention offer on musculoskeletal pain, everyday functions, general quality of life, music-specific complaints and the self-efficacy expectation of music students.

Project leader: Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Schmidt
Project implementation: Dr. med.
med. Gabriele Rotter
Project collaboration: Cand.med.
Vivien Zahn, Dr. med. Dipl.-Mus. Isabel Fernholz

Musical Activity and Health in the General Population

Music is a special form of communication in that it appeals to people in a fundamental way and evokes emotions. So far, the influence of music, especially classical music, on physiological and pathophysiological processes has been studied in a few clinical studies. Musicians reacted to music like a stressor, while non-musicians were able to reduce their stress hormones.

So far, there are no studies on the relationships between musical activity in the lay area and the occurrence of diseases based on population-based studies. On the basis of a few questions, the frequency and duration of the active music making as well as the played and / or heard music genre should be surveyed by the subjects of the NaKo Health Study.

In the cross-section the following questions should be illuminated:
a) Relationships between musical activity and educational status, social status, quality of life and other lifestyle factors, e.g. Alcohol consumption, stress, physical activity
b) Relationships between musical activity and the prevalence of chronic diseases (e.g., depression, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes and CVD, chronic pain)
c) Relationships between musical activity and cognitive performance (dementia)
d) Relationships between musical activity and hormone status (testosterone, cortisol, endorphins, oxytocin, etc.)

and in longitudinal section:
a) Relationships between musical activity and the change of lifestyle factors
b) Relationships between musical activity and the incidence of chron. Disorders (e.g., depression, hypertension, myocardial infarction, obesity, type 2, dementia, diabetes, CVD, and cancers)
c) Influence of musical activity on life expectancy, morbidity and mortality
to investigate.

Project leader:
Priv-Doz. Dr. med. Cornelia Weikert, MPH, Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

Other project participants:
Dr. med. Dipl. Mus. Isabel Fernholz, Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Willich, MPH, MBA, Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics
Priv-Doz. Dr. rer. medic. Friederike Kendel, Institute of Medical Psychology
Prof. Dr. med. Dipl. Mus. Hans-Christian Jabusch, Institute of Musicianship, Academy of Music Carl Maria von Weber, Dresden
Prof. Dr. Heiner Gembris, Institute for Giftedness Research in Music, University of Paderborn

Development of a Short Questionnaire for Recording the Musical Activity (MusA)

The health effects of musical activities have been attracting increasing research interest for several years. Nonetheless, this field of research suffers from the lack of suitable survey instruments for recording musical activity in the general population.
The aim of the research project was to evaluate a specially developed questionnaire, which should then be made available to the study centers of the NaKo Health Study, but also to other epidemiological and clinical studies, in order to test connections between musical activity and disease risks. Musical activities have so far been largely unrecognized and studied in large epidemiological studies, but there are indications of the general importance of cultural activities for health at the population level.
The study tested the acceptability and validity of a musical activity questionnaire. On the one hand, the questionnaire was compared with a detailed, already validated questionnaire on musicality and, on the other hand, the temporal stability was examined over 4-6 weeks. The study involved 121 subjects (including 60 choral singers) aged 18-65 years.

MusA questionnaire for download

Project management: Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. Cornelia Weikert
Project implementation: Dr. med. Dipl.-Mus. Isabel Fernholz
Project collaboration: Ulrike Stasun, Dr. rer. nat. Psych. Felix Fischer, Priv.-Doz. Dr. phil. Dipl. Psych Friederike Kendel, Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Schmidt, Prof. Dr. med. Stefan N. Willich