How can attending a concert affect your heart, head, and relationships?

ESHCC, EMC & Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra research the impact of live music on our well-being in a unique collaboration

On Saturday 25 May, around 300 visitors enjoyed live music at De Doelen. This time not (only) for fun, but because they were participating in a unique large-scale experiment studying the influence of live music on our well-being.

It has been known that music can touch us in many ways. It makes us happy or sad, calm or energetic. We know from previous research that listening to music on your own is also good for your health. For instance, music can reduce anxiety and even fear. However, a live concert is more than just music: it is something you experience together with the audience and the musicians. How exactly does that work?

In a unique collaboration between researchers Julian Schaap, Koen van Eijck and Michaël Berghman from the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC), Hans Jeekel, Markus Klimek and Antonia Becker from the Erasmus Medical Centre (EMC), and lead researcher Julia Peters from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (RPhO), the aim is to find out how concerts (pop and classical) influence our hearts, heads and relationships with each other. The research was made possible by a grant from Innovatielabs from the Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie and support from the Popunie.

On the 25th of May, after a successful pilot with around 150 International Bachelor Arts and Culture Studies students in January, around 300 people from Rotterdam came to De Doelen to see a classical performance by the RPhO and a pop concert by Codarts students. At the same time, their heart rates were monitored, and they filled in questionnaires on how they perceived the music and atmosphere. This experiment will be repeated on Sunday 30 June, when 300 other Rotterdam residents will revisit the concert experiment.

Afterwards, the researchers will start looking at all the data and, hopefully, come up with new insights on the role of live music in promoting physical, mental and social well-being.

More information

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