National Centre for Early Music

[Skip navigation]
Navigation Menu

William Byrd’s Elizabethan vision on the value of singing - Thursday 7th June 2018

Thursday 7 June 2018
10.00am - 4.00pm

"Since singing is so good a thing, I wish all men would learn to sing."

So wrote William Byrd in the preface to the first great English songbook (Psalms, Sonnets and Songs) published in 1588. His eight reasons to "persuade everyone to learn to sing" were given over 400 years ago, and include benefits to health and wellbeing. Only in the last 20 years, however, has scientific research offered evidence to support his important insights. On Thursday 7 June 2018, NCEM will host a day-long event of performances and participation, demonstrations and discussions, and will explore new insights provided by contemporary research into the health and wellbeing benefits of singing.

Contributors to the day:
  • Dr. Robert Hollingworth , Reader in Music, University of York, will speak on the life and work of William Byrd, and conduct a selection of his vocal music.
  • Prof. Stephen Clift , Director of the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University, will provide an overview of current scientific understanding of the health benefits of singing and how they relate to Byrd's views.
  • Dr. Rickard Åström , Musician and researcher in Gothenburg, Sweden, will conduct a live demonstration of how heart rhythms synchronise when people singing together as a group, and explore the significance of this phenomenon for social bonding and wellbeing.
  • Dr. John Dickinson and Dr. Steve Meadows , School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent, will demonstrate how lung function can be assessed, and discuss the effects of regular singing on patterns of breathing for people with respiratory illness.