An inquiry conducted at the House of Lords examining the 360-degree value of music in society


Tuesday 20th November 2018 (5pm – 6.30pm)
Committee Room 4
Chair: Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE
Secretariat: Dr Julia Jones (Found in Music) / Dr Shain Shapiro (Sound Diplomacy)

Topic to be addressed: The role of music in public health


  • Professor Chris Holland, Dean of Kent & Medway Medical School (opening 2020)

  • Professor Catherine Loveday, University of Westminster

  • Jordan Stephens, Music 4 Mental Health / #IAMWHOLE

  • Matt Campion, Music 4 Mental Health / #IAMWHOLE


Lord Clement-Jones acknowledged that the broad range of health benefits that music is believed to have the potential to deliver have already been examined in detail in other APPGs and House of Lords’ commissions. For the purposes of this evidence meeting all attendees are in general agreement that music has the potential to deliver positive health benefits. This meeting will examine how the delivery of music-based interventions to the general public can be improved or increased.

Professor Chris Holland outlined the following:

  • One of the defining characteristics of the Medical Act since the 1800s was the legal right to prescribe medicines. The use of chemicals and pills and the biomedical approach to health was at the core. References to humanities in medical schools were mainly used to help students understand the subjectivity of suffering, grief and grieving for example. Music is present, but as a metaphor rather than as a treatment.

  • Progress has been made in recent years and a much more holistic approach is now increasingly recognised as a valid alternative to drugs in certain circumstances. Medical professionals are starting to use it more in practice, especially for patients with chronic disease.

  • Social prescribing has become the zeitgeist of primary care, receiving increasing levels of official approval and support, and seen as an intervention with the potential of positively impacting the number of hospital visits. Such as singing to exercise the lungs for those with CPD.

  • The issue now is how to scale up social prescribing in order to see greater benefits.

  • Students are sensitised to these ideas upon graduation but soon those ambitions get lost in the general pressures of the job.

  • The current generation of undergraduate medical students are very open to the concept of social prescribing. There is a clear opportunity to use social prescribing in year 1 of medical training. It enables students to quickly gain confidence and practice in the act of “prescribing” but without the risk of pharmaceuticals. Year 1 students can cut their teeth prescribing social interventions such as singing and dancing and socialising in music settings and then subsequently progress into prescribing drugs later. This would very successfully embed social prescribing in the skill set of the future generations of medical professionals.

Lord Clement-Jones asked “how do we embed these principles into GP practices so that the average GP also uses social prescribing”?

  • Professor Holland replied saying that GPs presently find themselves in a frustrating position because they have so little time to spend with each patient that often the only effective (known) solution is a pill. The evidence is not strong enough at present regarding the effects of social prescribing.

Professor Catherine Loveday outlined the following:

  • There is a large and growing body of work regarding the psychological effects of music on humans. However, the focus of the medical profession on quantitative research and randomised control trials in clinical lab-based testing means that much of the ad hoc work that is done in the field is not recognised as valid.

  • If the efficacy of qualitative research was recognised as valuable data considerable progress would be made. This body of qualitative research helps us understand the lived experience.

  • There is enough circumstantial evidence to make music worth trying as a health intervention because the risks are so low.

  • A British Medical Association briefing paper would provide a solid overview of the key findings of current research and help GPs quickly understand how they can start prescribing music as an option more confidently. It would help connect everything up.

Lord Clement-Jones commented “so if there is such a wealth of research out there is there simply a gap between the scientists and the medical professionals? In other words are they just not reading the same journals? Maybe a BMA Briefing Paper could help bridge that gap.”

Professor Holland agreed that randomised control trials have been the gold standard of medical research due to the pharmaceutical nature of the field. But it’s time to also legitimise qualitative research.

Matt Campion and Jordan Stephens outlined the following:

  • In 2016 they collaborated on a social media campaign targeting young people in Brighton & Hove. That campaign #IAMWHOLE was commissioned by the local NHS CCG to increase the reach of their mental health work. The video featured 50 young people and reached 121 million people, trending at Number 1 worldwide on Twitter that day. The NHS was unable to scale up this campaign and build on its success because Matt’s company was not an Omnicom agency and there are tendering restrictions in place.

  • In 2017 Matt and Jordan decided to continue the campaign themselves and recruited the help of other artists such as Ed Sheeran, Professor Green, Olly Murs, James Arthur, Ann-Marie and many others.

  • A fund raising concert was held at the Roundhouse in November 2018 and reached 47 million on social media.

  • YMCA, CALM and The Mix are partners and deliver valuable mental health support to young people.

  • Music is extremely important to young people. It provides a vehicle to engage them and support them. Many artists also suffer from mental health problems so there is a very close connection that people identify with.

  • The campaign will continue to be developed and more concerts are being planned, drawing comparisons with ‘Live Aid’.

  • Other music based campaigns and interventions should be supported in order to give mental health support to young people, especially in regions outside of core cities.

  • Music education is being lost from school curriculums, music venues are being lost from our high streets. Music shouldn’t be a privilege, it should be available to all.

  • Popular music is particularly important to the majority of young people but that is the music genre that is struggling to survive at a grassroots level in the UK.

Professor Holland commented that there is now some confusion between activity that is an NHS intervention and activity that is public health promotion. Public Health England and NHS have different roles but there is some blurring along the boundary that can be a little confusing.

Baroness Finlay agreed that the NHS is like a huge tanker, whereas charities such as Matt and Jordan’s can be much more agile and fast moving. Perhaps the data that the #IAMWHOLE campaign is generating could be used to provide more evidence to strengthen the research base.

Baroness Finlay also suggested to Professor Holland that his new graduate intake could perhaps take part in a research study in order to gather more evidence regarding beneficial outcomes

Professor Nigel Osborne of X-Systems commented that they have been working towards the automation of music selection and have been able to predict neurophysiological responses with 99% accuracy. This sort of technological approach opens many opportunities for public health.

Baroness McIntosh commented that the work of The Roundhouse gives an incredibly successful example of how music creativity can engage young people. The benefits are definitely observable. Some arts institutions are now partnering with medical institutions and this should be encouraged across the UK. The impact of this could be significant in moving the field forward.

Alexandra Coulter (Secretariat of the APPG for Arts, Health and Wellbeing) noted that there are currently discussions going on regarding a proposed campaign led by BBC Create to encourage the public to take part in 2 hours of creativity a week and that Matt and Jordan should be involved in those conversations.

Baroness Finlay noted that children become young people at 11 when they enter school, not at 18. Therefore, we should also not ignore the younger end.

Sam Parker ( agreed that her 9-year old son and his friends are already heavily influenced and engaged by popular music. The importance of music to young people should not be ignored and can be harnessed to help maintain healthy lives.

Lord Clement-Jones noted that all attendees appear to agree that there is substantial existing evidence regarding the potential (multiple) positive benefits that music could deliver in regards to public health. These benefits have also been covered in detail by other APPGs but this evidence session has highlighted some actions that could assist in accelerating the take up of music as a health tool by medical professionals.

Save the Date:

Music in Society - Evidence Meeting 3

December 11th 2018 / 5.30pm – 7pm

Committee Room 4

Topic to be addressed: The role of music in coping with the ageing population

(Please note the term ‘coping’ has been purposefully chosen because this evidence meeting is examining the increasing pressure that the ageing population places on the NHS)

General information


Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE


Dr Julia Jones (Found in Music) & Dr Shain Shapiro (Sound Diplomacy)

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