Does Active Engagement in Community Music Support the Well-being of Older People?

Susan Hallam
Andrea Creech
Maria Varvarigou
Hilary McQueen
Helena Gaunt


Background: There is considerable evidence that participating in music making can have benefits for children and young people. This research explored how participation in making music might support the social, emotional and cognitive well-being of older people. Methods: Comparisons were made between older people participating in a wide range of musical and other activities in relation to their responses to questionnaires and psychological needs scales (the CASP-12 and the Basic Needs Satisfaction Scale; Deci & Ryan, 2000). Comparisons were also made between those older people participating in the musical activities who were in the third and fourth ages. Results: Factor analysis of responses revealed three factors: purpose (having a positive outlook on life); autonomy and control; and social affirmation (positive social relationships, competence and a sense of recognised accomplishment). Comparisons between those participating in the music groups and those participating in other activities revealed statistically significant differences on all three factors with the music groups giving more positive responses. There was also no deterioration in responses in the music groups between those in the third and fourth ages as might have been expected except in relation to purpose. Conclusions: Actively participating in making music has beneficial effects on the well-being of older people. Further research is needed to identify the mechanisms through which music is able to achieve these effects. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)