Contextual Factors and Wellbeing Outcomes: Ethnographic Analysis of an Artist-led Group Songwriting Program With Young People


Psychology of Music




Group-based therapeutic songwriting has been applied to enhance the wellbeing of young people. Artist-led songwriting experiences have potential to enhance wellbeing of young people but this has not yet been fully explored. Understanding how this activity impacts wellbeing can advance practice. This study offers a music therapy perspective on artist-led group songwriting, highlighting contextual factors that impacted wellbeing outcomes. A two-day artist-led songwriting program with 85 young people was observed. Video footage, ethnographic field notes and artefacts were thematically analysed and produced themes relating to contextual factors and wellbeing outcomes. Three overarching themes resulted: young people feel safe; young people have fun; young people push beyond boundaries. Contextual factors (sub-themes) included direct and honest feedback, high-energy rituals and emphasis on artistic excellence. Insights into circumstances permitting wellbeing outcomes for young people were obtained. Contextual factors helped shape the songwriting environment by promoting fun, safety and pushing boundaries. This environment enabled young people to engage in the program and benefit from its wellbeing-focused activities. Findings can inform music therapy and other professions using group songwriting with young people to foster wellbeing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Adolescents; Composition; Mental Health; Music Medicine; Psychological Outcomes; Songwriting; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

artist-led programs; community music; music education; regional communities; songwriting; wellbeing; young people; Artists; Well Being; Creativity

Study Type

Ethnographic Study; Qualitative Methods

Document Type