The Effect of a Music Therapy Intergenerational Program on Children and Older Adults' Intergenerational Interactions, Cross-age Attitudes, and Older Adults' Psychosocial Well-being


Melita Belgrave


Journal of Music Therapy




The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of participation in a music-based intergenerational music program on cross-age interactions and cross-age attitudes of elementary-age children and older adults, and older adults' psychosocial well-being. Twenty-one children in the 4th grade volunteered to participate in the experimental (n = 12) or control (n = 9) group. Twenty-six older adults from a retirement living facility also volunteered to participate in the experimental (n = 14) or control (n = 12) group. Ten 30-min music sessions occurred in which participants engaged in singing, structured conversation, moving to music, and instrument playing interventions. Data analysis of cross-age interactions revealed that the interventions 'structured conversation' and 'moving to music' were more effective in eliciting interaction behaviors than the interventions 'singing' and 'instrument playing.' Standardized measures revealed that children's attitudes towards older adults improved, though not significantly so, after participation in the intergenerational program. Results of biweekly post-session questionnaires revealed a decrease in negative descriptions of older adults and an increase in positive descriptions of older adults—suggesting a more positive view towards aging. Results revealed that older adults' attitudes towards children improved significantly after their participation in the intergenerational program. While standardized measures revealed that older adults did not perceive a significant improvement in their psychosocial well-being, their bi-weekly post-session questionnaires showed they perceived increased feelings of usefulness and other personal benefits from the intergenerational interactions. Suggestions for future research, the utility of varied measurement instruments, and implications for practice are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Body Improvisation; Children; Coping; Elderly; Improvisation; Mental Health; Music Medicine; Playing an Instrument; Psychological Outcomes; Questionnaires; Recreative Music Methods; Singing a Song; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

intergenerational programs; psychosocial well being; age differences; Elderly; Anxiety; Attitude to Health; Children; Depression; Intergenerational Relations; Personal Satisfaction; Program Development; Quality of Life; Relaxation; Social Environment; Social Support; Socialization; Well Being

Study Type

Quantitative Methods; Quasi-Experimental Study

PubMed ID


Document Type