SHAPER (Melodies for Mums)

Investigating the impact of singing for postnatal depression, via a randomised controlled trial and an implementation science study.

Partnership with King’s College London and Breathe Arts Health Research

With a multidisciplinary team of researchers, artists, scientists and clinicians, SHAPER is an ambitious, large-scale clinical trial and implementation science study, in which we are testing and scaling three arts projects within NHS settings.

SHAPER moves beyond just assessing impact of the arts on health and looks at how programmes with proven impact at a local level in the short term can become national programmes commissioned by the health sector long term. Working with three arts organisations to first embed projects into NHS hospitals, clinics and in the community, the research team will then assess whether and how they might improve the health and wellbeing of greater numbers of patients.

Here at UCL we are working on one of the arts projects, Breathe Arts Health Research’s ‘Melodies for Mums’ service. This service brings together new mothers – referred by GPs, midwives, and other health professionals – in singing and music sessions with their babies, aiming to reduce symptoms of postnatal depression. This build on the previous Music and Motherhood study, which demonstrated the effectiveness of the sessions in reducing symptoms of PND faster than usual care or social groups.

Note: the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the Melodies for Mums programme was delivered online for a period. Since this method of delivery was new, and not yet tested, we have conducted an initial evaluation of its effectiveness. Papers are due to be published in 2023. The main trial (using in-person delivery) resumed in Autumn 2021.

Find out more about Melodies for Mums

Find out more about SHAPER


Listen to Dr Daisy Fancourt talking about this trial on BBC Radio 3 for Mental Health Day 2022

Blog from Carmine Pariante: Let’s kick off the world’s largest study into arts and health! Inspire the Mind.


Wellcome Trust

Programme area

Clinical trials and implementation science




King’s College London
Breathe Arts Health Research (Melodies for Mums)
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
Community centres across Lambeth and Southwark


Dr Daisy Fancourt, UCL
Professor Carmine Pariante, Professor of Biological Psychiatry at King’s College London

Research Team

Dr Alexandra Burton, UCL
Full team



Key contact (UCL)