Musical Auto-biography Interview (MABI) as Promoting Self-identity and Well-being in the Elderly Through Music and Reminiscence

Ayelet Dassa


This study presents a technique that is used to create an elderly person’s musical autobiography in a one-on-one interview format as a means of promoting well-being and enabling a different connection between the elderly person and the interviewer. Forty-three interviewers’ essays documenting these meetings and written in the past 4 years (2012–2016) were analyzed. The interviewers were from diverse disciplines (music therapists, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists), who participated in different courses pertaining to music and the elderly. A qualitative analysis based on grounded theory paradigm revealed three main categories: (1) The elderly presented mostly musical memories from their childhood and youth, a period when music played a significant role in their lives; (2) The mutual musicking vividly elicited remote memories and emotionally impacted both parties; and (3) The mutual musicking revealed new and unfamiliar facets of the elderly. The findings suggest that creating a Musical Auto-Biography Interview (MABI) through a process of music and reminiscence strengthened the elderly’s sense of self-identity, illuminated hidden facets, and changed attitudes toward the elderly. Theoretical viewpoints as well as practical suggestions for music therapists and other practitioners are discussed, suggesting using MABI as an effective technique to promote well-being and redefine the elderly’s status in society. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)