Seven in 10 people say orchestral music improved their ‘mood and wellbeing’ in lockdown

18 January 2021, 16:50 | Updated: 18 January 2021, 17:00

Seven in 10 people say orchestral music improved their ‘mood and wellbeing’ in lockdown
Seven in 10 people say orchestral music improved their ‘mood and wellbeing’ in lockdown. Picture: Chris Christodoulou

By Rosie Pentreath

Classical music can be a calming, positive presence when times are tough, this study shows.

Seven in 10 people surveyed have said that orchestral music has been improving their ‘mood and wellbeing’ in lockdown, since various forms of restrictions began in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reminding us of classical music’s power to calm and soothe, as well as uplift us, in our toughest times, the result is from a new study from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) which explores engagement with orchestral music in 2020.

The study asked a nationally-representative sample of 8,000 people in the UK various questions about their music habits, including if they had been listening to orchestral music at various points in the year, if instrument learners have practiced more, and how coronavirus lockdowns, and then the news of the vaccines, have impacted respondents’ overall music habits and interests.

Read more: Classical music boosts mental health and wellbeing in isolation >

As well as the 71 percent of people discovering the positive impact of orchestral music on their mood, 85 percent responded that they ‘actively broadened their cultural horizons’, a third of them through learning more about orchestral, opera and chamber music, while 66 percent said they had a child doing more music practice since lockdown started.

And it seems lockdown helped more people discover classical music for the longterm: one in six people (16 percent) said they intended to continue exploring the music they discovered during lockdown, while, when asked, respondents indicated they’d be willing to donate money to arts organisations or become members in the future.

The vaccine seems to have increased people’s confidence in attending large events as well. 83 percent of those surveyed said news of the vaccine made them more comfortable with social activities in 2021, and 29 percent of people indicated they felt it would be safe to attend concerts, and 31 percent for theatres, once the vaccines had been announced.

Read more: Music takes 13 minutes to ‘release sadness’ and 9 to make you happy >

The survey is an overarching view of 2020, and is based on four main periods last year: pre-pandemic times, the first lockdown (March until July), the lifting of lockdown from July onwards, and following the news of the arrival of the vaccine towards the end of the year.

The national research is coupled with views from industry partners and anecdotal feedback from RPO players and audiences. Click here to read the RPO’s full report on engagement with orchestral music in 2020.

Click here to listen to the most calming classical music there is in the Classic FM Relax playlist, via Global Player.