Being Well, Being Musical: Music Composition as a Resource and Occupation for Older People


The British Journal of Occupational Therapy




Introduction: Participatory music making for older people has tended to focus on singing and performance. In a community music project undertaken by Manchester Camerata (a chamber orchestra), Blacon Community Trust and a small group of older adults, participants were given the opportunity to compose individual pieces of music interactively with professional musicians. This paper reports the findings of the research project. Method: An arts-based research method was adopted and incorporated action research and interpretive interactionism to articulate the experiences and perceptions of participants. Participants and Manchester Camerata musicians also worked together to represent the thematic findings of the research in a group composition. Findings: The findings demonstrate that individual and group music composition contributed to a sense of wellbeing through control over musical materials, opportunities for creativity and identity making, validation of life experience and social engagement with other participants and professional musicians. Conclusion; The results emphasised occupation as essential to health and wellbeing in the later stages of life. The findings also highlight the particularly innovative aspects of this research: (i) the use of music composition as a viable arts-in-health occupation for older people and (ii) the arts-based research method of group composition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Composition; Elderly; Mental Health; Music Medicine; Psychological Outcomes; Quality of Life; Songwriting; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

well being; music composition; occupation; older people; singing; community music project; arts based research; Geriatrics; Occupations

Study Type

Editorials, Opinions, Position Papers

Document Type