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A place for singing: Active music engagement by older Chinese Australians

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Positive, active engagement in community singing groups can provide emotional, social, cognitive and physical benefits to older participants. This article explores these benefits through the experiences of a group of older Chinese Australians still active in their local community. Using a qualitative, phenomenological case study approach, it draws on the participants’ own understandings and experiences with singing and music. In settings such as this, language barriers can compound social isolation and loneliness in individuals, and may hamper studies of culturally and linguistically diverse older people. Thus, participants were interviewed in their first language, Mandarin Chinese. The data from these interviews were thematically analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), which explores how participants make sense of their personal and social world. Four broad themes were identified from the data: Emotional well-being, connections with the past, shared interests and mental and physical well-being. Each of these themes is explored in the article through the words and experiences of the participants.

Keywords: Chinese Australian migrants; community music; cultural and linguistic diversity; positive ageing; singing group

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Monash University

Publication date: March 29, 2012

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  • The International Journal of Community Music publishes research articles, practical discussions, timely reviews, readers' notes and special issues concerning all aspects of Community Music. The editorial board is composed of leading international scholars and practitioners spanning diverse disciplines that reflect the scope of Community Music practice and theory.
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