The Relationship between Participation in Singing Programmes and Student Well-Being in a Christchurch Primary School

Funding year: 
2 years
Victoria University of Wellington
School sector
Project start date: 
January 2016
Project end date: 
March 2018
Principal investigator(s): 
Dr. Daphne Rickson
Research team members: 
Dr Robert Legg (Victoria University of Wellington), Dianna Reynolds (Waitakiri School)
Research partners: 
Victoria University of Wellington and Waitākiri School in Christchurch


Project description

Our research investigates the perceived relationship between singing programmes and well-being in a school community affected by the Christchurch earthquakes. Singing programmes were introduced specifically to enhance wellbeing, and wellbeing scores remain high despite extremely challenging conditions. We will articulate the factors that have enabled the singing programmes to be developed and sustained, find ways to improve our programmes, and model the perceived correlations between classroom singing and perceptions of well-being.


There is good evidence to suggest singing is a highly motivating medium that can have a positive impact on well-being; and the evidence that well-being influences learning is uncontested. Our aim is to learn how to maximise the use of singing for well-being, and to inform other schools about the ways singing can support wellbeing especially during exceptionally difficult circumstances. When teachers feel competent and confident about singing they are more likely to use it, and to use it successfully. An articulation of the factors involved in the development and maintenance of singing programmes when conditions have been severely compromised, and increased awareness of the perceived correlations between participation in the singing programmes and perceptions of well-being, will enable our own and wider school communities to have high, realistic, and practicable expectations of what daily singing can achieve.

Why is this research important?

Group singing can lead to a general sense of well-being; and well-being is positively associated with potential to learn. Daily classroom singing is likely to have an impact on learners’ readiness for, and ability to engage with classroom learning. However, the relationship between singing and well-being is complex. Our articulation of the factors involved in the development and maintenance of singing programmes, especially during a particularly difficult period, and our model of the correlations between singing and well-being, will enable the our own and wider school communities to maximise singing for well-being programmes.

What we plan to do

We will be doing Action Research. We will examine our current situation, plan and implement action, and constantly evaluate the effects of our intervention through cycles of critical reflection and dialogue, leading to further or alternative action. We will gather our data from documentation relating to singing programmes; observations of teachers and learners participating in classroom singing; individual and/or group interviews with learners; focus groups with teachers; and an online questionnaire for all learners. Learners will be encouraged to produce written stories, drawings, poems or song lyrics, to express what classroom singing means to them; and some will video/audio record singing sessions. These artefacts will be used to stimulate focus group discussion. Learners will also interview each other. Interview and focus group data will be transcribed and the text will be analysed using thematic analysis procedures. Following the analysis procedures we describe the singing for well-being programme and the evaluation strategies that we employed, and map the pre-conditions with the perceived outcomes.


Contact Details

Dr Daphne Rickson,
Senior Lecturer (Music Therapy),
New Zealand School of Music,
P.O. Box 600,
Victoria University of Wellington,
Ph: 04 4635233 x35808