Musical Engagement and Subjective Wellbeing Amongst Men in the Third Age


Nordic Journal of Music Therapy




Introduction: This article explores the wellbeing benefits of musical engagement for men in the third age. Older men face specific health challenges such as loneliness, isolation and a heightened risk for suicide, tied to gendered norms around emotional control, and a reluctance to seek professional help. There is substantial evidence of the positive health and wellbeing outcomes from older people’s engagement in music, but no studies on older men, music and wellbeing. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 Swedish men aged 66–76, with different demographic backgrounds and engagement with music. Interviews were analysed using qualitative thematic analysis. Results: Analysis resulted in four themes: 'emotions and embodiment', 'adjusting to growing older', 'developing and maintaining friendships' and 'maintaining contact as a caregiver'. Regardless of musical genre or whether singing, playing, dancing or listening to music, the men used music to come into contact with their bodies and emotions, as well as improving relationships and social contacts. In particular, men as caregivers to sick partners benefited from sharing music with their partner, thus improving the quality of the relationship. Discussion: This study shows that engagement with music fills deep psychological and social/emotional needs for the participants, in both 'being' with the music and 'doing' musical activities, where also talking about music is highlighted as an important part of the musical engagement. The results have implications for the field of music therapy, in that it foregrounds music therapists’ potentially important role in developing opportunities for older men to engage with music. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Elderly; Emotional Functioning; Engagement Level; Gender Disparities; Interviews; Mental Health; Music Therapy; Playing an Instrument; Psychological Outcomes; Recreative Music Methods; Singing a Song; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Men; ageing; wellbeing; emotions; masculinity; Aging; Human Males; Music Perception; Well Being; Caregivers; Gerontology; Loneliness; Psychological Needs; Risk Factors; Partners

Study Type

Phenomenological Study; Qualitative Methods

Document Type