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Being well, being musical: music composition as a resource and occupation for older people

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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.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4276/030802213X13729279114933

Publication date: July 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at http://www.cot.co.uk/british-journal-bjot/british-journal-occupational-therapy

    Submissions can be made at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/bjot

    The 2012 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 1.096.

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