Using Choral Singing to Improve Employee Well-Being and Social Cohesion in the Norwegian Public Sector

  • Fay GiæverEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Business, Arts and Humanities book series (PSBAH)


This chapter explores the ways in which choir singing can facilitate a deeper and more profound learning process through the stimulation of multiple sensory modalities, including emotional and bodily experiences. Subsequent to a choral singing intervention, that aimed to improve employee wellbeing and social cohesion in a Norwegian municipality, a group participants and non-participants were interviewed about their experiences. A wide range of perceived barriers to participation was reported, such as lack of vocal skills, introversion and family commitments. Participants who were initially reluctant, but who overcame these barriers, experienced a more profound impact on well-being and social cohesion whereby emotional experiences over time shifted from negative to positive and a threshold was overcome. Observing others who overcame this kind of threshold was just as powerful as overcoming it themselves. The study reported in this Chapter was conducted also in collaboration with Grete Wennes.


Choral Singing Improve Employee Well-being Arts-based Methods Chorus Sings Positive Emotional Experiences 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Adler, N. J. (2008). The Arts & Leadership: Now That We Can Do Anything, What Will We Do? Academy of Management Learning & Education, 54(4), 486–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amdam, J. (2007, August). The Emerging Norwegian Municipal Structure: Alternative Options—and Their Consequences—For the Political and Organisational Reform of the Local and Regional Levels. European Journal of Spatial Development. ISSN 1650–9544. Retrieved from
  3. Argyris, C., & Schön, D. A. (1996). Organizational Learning: Vol. 2. Theory, Method, and Practice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  4. Baumeister, R. F., Braslavsky, E., Finkenauer, C., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Bad is Stronger Than Good. Review of General Psychology, 5, 323–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brearley, L., & Drasø, L. (2008). Vivifying Data and Experience Through Artful Approaches. In J. G. Knowles & A. L. Cole (Eds.), Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research: Perspectives, Methodologies, Examples and Issues (Chapter 53). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Bygren, L. O., Johansson, S., Konlaan, B. B., Grjibovski, A. V., Wilkinson, A. V., & Sjöström, M. (2009a). Attending Cultural Events and Cancer Mortality: A Swedish Cohort Study. Arts & Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice, 1, 64–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bygren, L. O., Weissglas, G., Wikström, B. B., Konlaan, B. B., Grjibovski, A. V., & Karlsson, A.-B. (2009b). Cultural Participation and Health: A Randomized Control Trial Among Medical Care Staff. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71, 469–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1990). Origins and Functions of Positive and Negative Affect: A Control-Process View. Psychological Review, 97, 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clift, S., & Hancox, G. (2010). The Significance of Choral Singing for Sustaining Psychological Wellbeing. Music Performance Research, 3(1), 79–96.Google Scholar
  10. Crossan, M. M., & Sorrenti, M. (2002). Making Sense of Improvisation. In K. N. Kamoche, M. Pina e Cunha, & J. Vieira da Cunha (Eds.), Organizational Improvisation. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  11. Cuddy, A. (2015). Presence. Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. New York: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  12. Cuypers, K. F., Knudtsen, M. S., Sandgren, M., Krogstad, S., Wikström, B. M., & Theorell, T. (2011). Cultural Activities and Public Health: Research in Norway and Sweden. An Overview. Arts & Health, 3, 6–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Darsø, L. (2006). Forandring gennem kunst. Implementering, Børsen Ledelseshåndbøger, 2, 1–16. Retrieved from
  14. Darsø, L. (2009). Artful Creation. Learning-Tales of Arts-in-Business. Frederiksberg, Denmark: Samfundslitteratur.Google Scholar
  15. Dunbar, R., Kaskatis, K., Macdonald, I., & Barra, V. (2012). Performance of Music Elevates Pain Threshold and Positive Affect: Implications for the Evolutionary Function of Music. Evolutionary Psychology, 10(4), 688–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The Role of Positive Emotions in Positive Psychology. The Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fredrickson, B. L., & Branigan, C. (2005). Positive Emotions Broaden the Scope of Attention and Thought-Action Repertoires. Cognition and Emotion, 19, 313–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fredrickson, B. L., & Losada, M. F. (2005). Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing. American Psychologist, 60(7), 678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fredrickson, B. L., Tugade, M. M., Waugh, C. E., & Larkin, G. R. (2003). What Good Are Positive Emotions in Crisis? A Prospective Study of Resilience and Emotions Following the Terrorist Attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 365–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Frijda, N. H. (1993). Moods, Emotion Episodes and Emotions. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland (Eds.), Handbook of Emotions (pp. 381–403). New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
  21. George, J. M., & Brief, A. P. (1992). Feeling Good-Doing Good: A Conceptual Analysis of the Mood at Work-Organizational Spontaneity Relationship. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 310–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Giæver, F., Vaag, J. R., & Wennes, G. (2016). Choral Singing as an Arts-Based Organisational Intervention: A Qualitative Study of Employees’ Experiences. Arts & Health, 9, 26–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Grape, C., Sandgren, M., Hansson, L. O., Ericson, M., & Theorell, T. (2002). Does Singing Promote Well-Being?: An Empirical Study of Professional and Amateur Singers During a Singing Lesson. Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science, 38(1), 65–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J. T., & Rapson, R. L. (1994). Emotional Contagion. Studies in Emotion & Social Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Hunter, P. G., & Schellenberg, E. G. (2010). Music and Emotion. In M. R. Jones, et al. (Eds.), Music Perception (pp. 129–164). Springer Handbook of Auditory Research 36. New York: Springer International Publishing. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. James, W. (1884). What is an Emotion? Mind, 34, 188–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Karl, K., & Pelucce, J. (2006). How Does Workplace Fun Impact Employee Perceptions of Customer Service Quality? Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 13, 2–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kiefer, T., & Barclay, L. J. (2012). Understanding the Mediating Role of Toxic Emotional Experiences in the Relationship Between Negative Emotions and Adverse Outcomes. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 85, 600–625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Emotion and Adaptation. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, Appraisal and Coping. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  31. MacLellan, C. R. (2011). Differences in Myers-Briggs Personality Types Among High School Band, Orchestra, and Choir Members. Journal of Research in Music Education, 59, 85–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Maitlis, S., Vogus, T. J., & Lawrence, T. B. (2013). Sensemaking and Emotion in Organizations. Organizational Psychology Review, 3, 222–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Martin, R. A. (2001). Humour, Laughter, and Physical Health: Methodological Issues and Research Findings. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 504–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Milch, V., Vaag, J. R., Giæver, F., & Saksvik, P. Ø. (2013). Building Healthy Organizations Through Music and Culture Interventions. In G. F. Bauer & G. J. Jenny (Eds.), Salutogenic Organizations and Change. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  35. Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation. (2014). Retrieved from
  36. O’Neill, S., & Nicholson-Cole, S. (2009). Fear Won’t Do It. Promoting Positive Engagement with Climate Change Through Visual and Iconic Representations. Science Communication, 3, 355–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Parkinson, B. (1995). Ideas and Realities of Emotion. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Parush, T., & Koivunen, N. (2014). Paradoxes, Double Binds, and the Construction of “Creative” Managerial Selves in Art-Based Leadership Development. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 30, 104–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pelowski, M., & Akiba, F. (2011). A Model of Art Perception, Evaluation and Emotion in Transformative Aesthetic Experience. New Ideas in Psychology, 29, 80–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Scherer, K., & Tran, V. (2001). Effects of Emotion on the Process of Organizational Learning. In M. Dierkes, J. Child, & I. Nonaka (Eds.), Handbook of Organizational Learning (pp. 369–392). New York: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  41. Strack, F., Martin, L. L., & Stepper, S. (1988). Inhibiting and Facilitating Conditions of the Human Smile: A Nonobtrusive Test of the Facial Feedback Hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 768–777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Taylor, S. S., & Ladkin, D. (2009). Understanding Arts-Based Methods in Managerial Development. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 8, 55–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Theorell, T. (2009). Noter om musik och hälsa. Stockholm: Karolinske Institutet University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Vaag, J., Saksvik, P. Ø., Milch, V., Theorell, T., & Bjerkeset, O. (2014). “Sound of Well-being” Revisited—Choir Singing and Well-Being Among Norwegian Municipal Employees. Journal of Applied Arts & Health, 5(1), 51–63. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway

Personalised recommendations