u3a-minichiello - A RT I C L E 437 Psychology of Music...

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The meaning of music in the lives of older people: a qualitative study 437 ARTICLE Psychology of Music Psychology of Music Copyright ©  Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research vol  ( ): ‒ [ - (  )  : ; ‒ ] .⁄ www.sagepublications.com TERRENCE HAYS UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND VICTOR MINICHIELLO UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND ABSTRACT This qualitative study describes the experience of music and focuses on the emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual well-being roles that music plays in the lives of older people. In-depth interviews were used to explore the meaning, importance and function of music for 52 older Australians living in the community aged 60 years and older. The findings revealed that music provides people with ways of understanding and developing their self-identity; connecting with others; maintaining well-being; and experiencing and expressing spirituality. The results show how music contributes to positive ageing by providing ways for people to maintain positive self-esteem, feel competent, independent, and avoid feelings of isolation or loneliness. The study highlights the need to be better informed about how music can facilitate and sustain older people’s well-being. KEYWORDS : gerontology, positive ageing, well-being Introduction Research shows that music is part of a person’s daily existence and is heard in advertising, film, radio, television and at sporting events. A survey conducted by Cole (1999) that examined musical preferences of people who listen to radio music, showed that 75 percent of people listened to music for at least one hour each day and that the top categories of music listened to were classical, show tunes and country music. Not surprisingly, for most people music is a pleasurable experience, whether they listen to it intently or participate in the making of music. The main reason why most people engage with music is for the emotional experience (Juslin and Sloboda, 2001). It can excite, emotion- ally move and entertain people more than other stimuli (Scarantino, 1987), and the reaction is usually spontaneous (Haas, 1984). Sloboda (1999) further shows that music can elicit mood enhancement, mood change and spiritual or ‘transcendent’ functions. sempre :
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Music has also been found to enhance the quality of people’s experiences and human relationships (Blacking, 1995). For example, music has been reported to play a vital role in communication both within the person and between persons (Neugebauer and Aldrige, 1998). Music expresses aspects of a person’s experience in society because its structures ‘are reflections of patterns of human relations, with the value of a piece of music being insepar- able from its value as an expression of human experience’ (Blacking, 1995:
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This note was uploaded on 01/14/2011 for the course MUS 355 taught by Professor Carson during the Spring '08 term at ASU.

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u3a-minichiello - A RT I C L E 437 Psychology of Music...

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