View of Music and Health Promotion - In the Life of Music Therapy and Music Psychology Researchers: A Pilot Study

[Research Voices: Qualitative Studies]

Music and Health Promotion - In the Life of Music Therapy and Music Psychology Researchers: A Pilot Study

By Lars Ole Bonde


In August 2013, the Centre for Music and Health published its first anthology in English - ‘Musical Life Stories’. In the Anthology, 17 authors from 6 countries present their research on the influence of music in a lifelong health perspective. A unique feature of the book is a collection of “personal narratives” by the authors. 13 of the authors wrote a short, free-form narrative about the influence of music on their own identity and health from a life span perspective.

This article describes a thematic analysis of the 13 narratives. I investigated the question “Do these music therapy/music psychology researchers use music for their own health in different ways than lay people?” The themes identified are related to the international research literature on music and identity, as well as being considered in relation to the author’s study of health themes in the musical autobiographies of music therapy students at Aalborg University (DK). The analysis reveals that the researchers’ appreciation and appropriation of music’s affordances are basically the same as those reported by music therapy students and lay people.

Introduction and Context

Being a researcher and educator in music therapy, the field of music and health has been an area of interest for me over many years, and a focus for my research has been the question of how health musicking works for lay people as well as for music professionals. The concept of health musicking was coined by Stige (2003), and I suggest that health musicking can be understood as the common core of any use of music experiences to regulate emotional or relational states or to promote wellbeing, be it therapeutic or not, professionally assisted or independent (Bonde, 2011; see also Trondalen & Bonde, 2012).

The Centre for Music and Health publishes a book series, and has generated six thematic anthologies on issues related to music and health. These have included “Music in Psychiatric Health Promotion for Children and Adolescents” (Anthology #2; Ruud, 2009) and “Music, Identity, and Health” (Anthology #4; Stensæth & Bonde, 2011). The chapters in the first five volumes were written in Scandinavian languages, however Volume 6 (released in August 2013) is written in English and therefore accessible for a much larger international audience. “Musical Life Stories. Narratives on Health Musicking” presents 16 research studies written by 17 authors from 6 countries (Bonde, Ruud, Skånland & Trondalen 2013). In order to include a first person perspective in the book, the editors invited all contributors to write a personal note or short narrative on the roles and functions of music in their own life, with special attention to health issues. They were asked to write freely about “personal experiences with ‘health musicking’ from any time in their life – one or more situations or a context where music was experienced as helpful in some health-related way” (p. 339). 13 authors accepted the invitation and the narratives can be found on pp. 339-350 in the anthology[1].

The present article investigates the question: Do music therapy/music psychology researchers use music for their own health in different ways than lay people? A review of relevant literature is followed by my thematic analysis of the 13 narratives, with special attention being paid to health issues. The results are discussed in relation to the literature and ideas for future research are presented.

Literature Review

A principal theme in the anthology is the everyday practices of people using music to enhance their health and well-being independently of a music therapist, using DeNora’s (2000) explanation that musicking is a form of self-help technology, or a technology of the self. Narratives of musical self-care in everyday life are presented in relation to questions such as: what kinds of musical practices do people apply in order to regulate their health and promote their sense of well-being?; and, what are the (health) affordances of music experience and how are they appropriated by lay people?

The previous anthologies have been edited as investigations of such questions and of music as a health resource in different clinical and non-clinical contexts. Volume 6 was the first to explore health musicking from a lifespan perspective. Whilst very few studies of this kind have been published previously, “a wave of self-reflexivity is sweeping across the music profession and is gaining momentum in a number of areas, such as music practice, research and pedagogy.” (Bartlett & Ellis 2009, p. 6). This autoethnographic trend is impressively illustrated in the book edited by Bartlett & Ellis, however, music therapists and music psychologists – and other musicologists, perhaps with the exception of Jodie Taylor (2009) – do not seem to be hit by the sweeping wave yet.

The literature includes some examples of the influence of music and benefits of musicking over a longer time span. Gembris (2006) published papers from a conference on Musical Development in a Lifespan Perspective. The studies included were limited to composers and professional musicians, and for them it was documented that good (physical/mental) health was a resource for professional musicians to maintain a high level of performance, while health problems influenced their performance negatively. The rich anthology Music in Our Lives: Rethinking Musical Ability, Development, and Identity (McPherson, Davidson & Faulkner, 2012) is based on a longitudinal study of young musicians aged 7-22, and it includes several personal narratives of young musicians, however not focusing on health issues.

Hays & Minichiello (2005) interviewed 52 senior amateur musicians (60-98 ys) about their musical experiences and of the functions and benefits of music during their life. The study revealed that one essential function of music after retirement was the stabilization of identity or even a redefinition of identity through greater involvement with music.

The comprehensive anthology on Music, Health and Wellbeing (MacDonald, Kreutz & Mitchell, 2012) includes numerous studies on how lay people use music to improve or maintain health, however not in a lifespan perspective, and with very few first person narratives. There are important studies of how choral singing and different types of community music can promote health over shorter periods of time (e.g. Clift, 2012), however, Gembris’ chapter on Music-Making as a Lifelong Development and Resource for Health (Gembris, 2012) is the only one to address the lifespan perspective. 90% or more of his 308 informants – senior amateur musicians – responded that it was "completely true" or "rather true" that making music 1) provides vitality, 2) increases quality of life, 3) makes me happy, 4) helps making contacts, and 5) is a challenge, in a positive sense.

Balsnes (2009, 2011) made an in-depth study of a Norwegian choir, including a moving case study of a choir singer whose quality of life (and health) was improved through her participation in the choir over years. The study not only documents that participation in a choir can enhance quality of life, social belonging and coherence in the singers, it also contributes to their sense of identity, and many of the singers experience choral singing as both physical and mental health promotion. This is in line with the many studies of choral singing as a health resource carried out by the Sydney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health (for an overview, see Clift, 2012).

No studies have been identified where music therapists, music psychologists or other music researchers study or write about health benefits of music in their personal life stories. Personal musical life stories or narratives – “musical autobiographies” – written by researchers do exist, and the autobiographical chapter in Ruud (1997/2013) is an elaborate example. However, we know very little about health issues in this context.

My own contribution to the anthology (Bonde, 2013) is an investigation of the musical identity of Danish music therapy students, based on the students’ musical autobiographies and qualitative interviews. Three "Health and Wellbeing" themes were identified in the thematic analysis of the students’ narratives, including: energy and vitality, emotional catharsis, physical and emotional healing. In the Discussion section, these themes will be compared with results from the analysis of the researchers’ narratives.

The narratives provided excellent data for a pilot study, even if the authors had not been instructed to concentrate on health issues in their contribution. The material could be analyzed in a number of ways; however, I will focus on how the 13 researchers describe their personal use of music for their own health’s sake.

Data and Method

Data in this study are 13 personal narratives, written in a free form as personal reflections on the theme of the anthology. In the writing phase, the authors were not informed about the possibility that I would use the narratives for a pilot study analysis because the idea only occurred to me when the editors were preparing a presentation seminar for a conference[2]. All authors have subsequently provided written consent that their narrative could be used in the analysis.

The texts were interrogated using thematic analysis (Braun & Clark, 2006). Thematic analysis is a theoretically flexible qualitative analytic method, providing guidelines for the identification of similarities, differences and patterns in texts. It can be performed both deductively (theory based, top-down) and inductively (grounded in the material, bottom-up). From a meta-perspective (Tesch, 1990), thematic analysis can lend itself to different purposes and interests, such as “language as communication” or “identification of elements and their linkages”. In the present pilot study, thematic analysis guided my inductive search for meaning units (codes) in each individual narrative, gradually leading to more general themes and trends in the text as a whole. The analysis followed the steps recommended by Braun and Clarke (2006, p.87) are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Braun & Clarke’s (2006) Phases and Description of the Thematic Analysis process in each phase
  1. Familiarizing yourself with your data:
    Transcribing data (if necessary), reading and re-reading the data, noting down initial ideas.
  2. Generating initial codes:
    Coding interesting features of the data in a systematic fashion across the entire data set, collating data relevant to each code.
  3. Searching for themes:
    Collating codes into potential themes, gathering all data relevant to each potential theme.
  4. Reviewing themes:
    Checking if the themes work in relation to the coded extracts (Level 1) and the entire data set (Level 2), generating a thematic "map" of the analysis.
  5. Defining and naming themes:
    Ongoing analysis to refine the specifics of each theme, and the overall story the analysis tells, generating clear definitions and names for each theme.
  6. Producing the report:
    The final opportunity for analysis. Selection of vivid, compelling extract examples, final analysis of selected extracts, relating back of the analysis to the research question and literature, producing a scholarly report of the analysis.


When the analysis was finished, the themes were compared to the literature on both music and identity, and music and health promotion, and the specific health themes were compared to findings from my own contribution to the anthology, an analysis of health themes in the musical autobiographies of music therapy students at Aalborg University (DK).

Themes in the Personal Narratives of Musical Life Stories

Six general themes with several sub-themes (categories) were identified in the analysis. Table 2 gives an overview of themes and sub-themes.

Table 2 Six themes and twelve sub-themes in the thirteen personal narratives
Table 2. Six themes and twelve sub-themes in the thirteen personal narratives
Music as connector
Music as/in personal relationships
Music as a social/community mediator
Music as a power
The emotional power experienced in listening
The expressive power experienced in musicing
Music as a companion
The joys of self-expression
Music as a mirror /affect attunement
Mastering your instrument/voice enhances self-esteem
Mastery gives access to communities
Music as a way to brightness and peace
Transpersonal and other ‘strong experiences’
Existential health
Increased self-awareness through music
Empowerment, enchantment, enthrallment

In Table 3, themes and subthemes are illustrated with selected quotes from data.

Table 3. General themes and subthemes illustrated with quotes from the personal narratives.
Themes Sub-themes Illustrative quotes
Music as connector Music as/in personal relationships Since childhood, music has been for me a way of connecting with people. It gave me a voice and a place in groups that otherwise I would not have been confident enough to secure. (Stuart Wood).
Music as a social/community mediator I felt a sudden moment of pleasure as I listened to the mixture of old and young, male and female voices, embracing me and my family and paying tribute to my father, who always appreciated it when people took part in the singing at church. A strange but strong feeling of belonging: in my family, in church, in the local community. I felt connected. (Randi Rolvsjord).
…community singing not only taught me about the health potential of music but also showed me the broad value of bringing people together and making music, perhaps the easiest and happiest cure for any life challenge. (Karette Stensæth)
Music as a power The emotional power experienced in listening I remember my father singing "Jerusalem" in a church at a wedding. I was six years old, and I cried. I was overwhelmed by the strength and the power of my father’s voice, and by the organ, and the atmosphere—though I did not quite understand what was going on. (Kari Batt-Rawden)
The expressive power experienced in musicking The headmaster of the school who had just led the singing, broke the silence with these accurate words: "If we can be together in music this way, everything else becomes easy!" I think we all felt that this was true. We had been so empowered by the music. (Karette Stensæth)
Music as companion The joys of self-expression Throughout my life, I have sought musical company, and it has brought me both meaning and purpose. (…) Music is a companion, a connector and a life-enhancing contributor to my energy level and sense of well-being. (Kari Batt-Rawden)
Music as a mirror /as affect attunement I could never have been such a happy child if I didn’t have the music to confront the darker side of life, giving me a way to express my sorrow and yearning, comforting me, making all of my emotions explicit and accepted. (Torill Vist)
Mastery Mastering your instrument/voice enhances self-esteem …what I clearly remember is the feeling of it all. I was so proud! I felt special! I was the only child who was given the opportunity to sing a song on my own. A whole song—just me. This was my special moment! (Hege Beckmann)
Mastery gives access to communities I don’t remember exactly how I learned the recorder myself, but what I do remember is how much I enjoyed the feeling of accompanying [my mother] and the sound of a two-voiced melody. (Renate Gretsch).
Transcendence Music as a way to brightness and peace I have experienced the way music is able to move me, to allow me to transcend everything or enter another "dimension", one full of pleasure and joy. (Kari Batt-Rawden).
Transpersonal and other "strong experiences" In the flash of a moment, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, made sense! And I was a part of it. (Lars Lilliestam).
[In a performance of Thomas Tallis’ motet Spem in alium] I was singing my part, counting bars, when I suddenly felt like I was in the middle of the music. It was as if I were in the peaceful eye of some kind of storm, surrounded by human voices and the music itself. It was as if the music was both inside and outside of me at the same time; I felt I was a part of the huge humankind. (Gro Trondalen)
Existential health Increased self-awareness through music After I dumped the junk and headed for home, I put the radio on, and it happened to be playing "My Song" by Keith Jarrett, a recording I must have heard hundreds of times and knew almost note for note. But this time it was different…. Suddenly, tears filled my eyes, I had goose bumps, my breathing became heavy and my legs started to feel weak. I was shivering. Somehow, I felt euphoria and melancholia at the same time – a powerful love for everything alive, for my fellow men and the whole of existence, but one that was shaded by a sorrow for all of the things in the world that were not as they should be. (Lars Lilliestam)
I often wonder how other people communicate and express themselves without this deep connection to music, and I am amazed that they are able to do so. For me, music is an inextricable part of who I am. (Katrina MacFerran)
Empowerment, enchantment, enthrallment Through the act of choosing the music for the different CDs in my PhD project, as a participant and contributor myself, I have increased my own self-awareness and consciousness of the importance of music in my own life. (Kari Batt-Rawden)

The more specific health themes are explored separately in the next section.

Health Themes in the Personal Narratives of Musical Life Stories

“Music as a source of health and wellbeing” was one prominent theme that was further refined into three distinct categories: Music enhancing or facilitating 1) Energy and vitality, 2) Emotional catharsis, 3) Physical and emotional healing. Table 4 presents themes and sub-themes (categories).

Table 4. Three sub-themes and six sub-themes within the “Health and wellbeing theme”
Health and wellbeing 1: energy & vitality
Boost physical and mental energy
Enhance vitality and self-esteem
Health and wellbeing 2: emotional catharsis
Grief work: expression of sorrow and pain
Redemption, comfort and hope
Health and wellbeing 3: physical and emotional healing
"Music as healer" / "a self-healing practice"
Recovery from physical or emotional illness


In Table 5, the “Health and wellbeing”-themes and subthemes are illustrated with selected quotes from data.

Table 5. “Health and wellbeing”-themes and subthemes illustrated with selected quotes from the narratives
Themes Sub-themes Illustrative quotes
Energy and vitality Boost physical and mental energy Participating in musical activities makes me feel stronger and more energised. (Kari Batt-Rawden).
Enhance vitality and self-esteem Taking up the piano at an early age provided the perfect means to realize my desire for constant action and emotional engagement. It required dedication, commitment, emotional expression, and, most importantly, connection with others. (Katrina Skewes McFerran)
Emotional catharsis Grief work: expression of sorrow and pain While flying over the grave [in the music-assisted imagery of a GIM session], I imagined my father, more or less like a ghost, coming out of the grave, up into the air, taking his farewell with me. Although we were both non-religious people, I felt that this was a fine way to manage a virtual goodbye with my loving father, and I found myself ready to complete the grieving process. Music both started and helped me through this process. (Even Ruud)
Redemption, comfort and hope Bach’s music helped me recognise and even find comfort in this longing for death (the entrance to the kingdom of God) as redemption from earthly sorrow and pain. I regained hope for my own life by listening to—and trying to sing—particularly the two great bass cantatas "Ich will den Kreuztab gerne tragen" (BWV 56) and "Ich habe genug" (BWV 82). (Lars Ole Bonde)
Physical and emotional healing Music as "healer" / "a self-healing practice" When life has been rough, tough or painful, I have always turned to music as a "healer"—a kind of lifesaver, and a provider of both vitality and ease of mind. (Kari Batt-Rawden)
Recovery from physical or emotional illness In my early teens, I was run over by a tanker truck. Due to my bodily injuries, I was not able to go to school for months, nor could I walk or move properly - but I could play the piano, and I did. Months passed by as I expressed myself through music alone, embedding in my playing all the feelings a teenager possesses. (Gro Trondalen)


The 13 brief narratives and vignettes are examples of first-person (auto)ethnographic text that have become common in qualitative research (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). The texts have neither been edited nor reviewed, in other words: the trustworthiness of the texts depends on the author’s integrity and honesty. If the narratives had been followed up by interviews, it would have been possible to clarify eventual personal idiosyncrasies or concepts used in a special way, and to ensure a common understanding or differentiation of elements in health musicking. Some of the narratives are based on memories from childhood and adolescence and can be understood as narrative constructions more than as exact recollections. They are deeply personal, and therefore of course also influenced by the researcher’s personal bias and studies in the field. In a future study, trustworthiness could be enhanced by a semi-structured guide for narratives as well as interviews. The guide should include definitions of core concepts, for example health musicking and strong experiences, and informants’ eventual research within the field should be explicated.


The discussion will address the questions of how the results of the thematic analysis presented above relate to the reviewed literature in one form of Cross-comparison, and how the health themes identified relate to my own study of health promotion in Danish music therapy students’ musical autobiographies in another cross-comparison. Finally, cultural perspectives of the study are briefly addressed, and ideas for future research are outlined.

General Themes in the Literature and in the Authors’ Narratives

In an important study, Laiho (2004) identified the “four most common psychological themes in [the] theories and divisions of the functions of music”: (1) identity (construction and strengthening of identity and conceptions of self); (2) agency (control, competency, self-esteem); (3) interpersonal relationships (belonging and privacy); (4) the mediating emotional field (enjoyment, emotion regulation). Laiho (2004) also suggests that music can function as a substitute for relationships. “It is often felt to be an understanding and valued friend rather than a sounding object.” (p.52) Ansdell (2013, p. 6-7), in his preface to the anthology, identifies similar ‘key dimensions’ in the anthology chapters: (a) “Music is intensely personal for most people… the soundtrack to a life”; (b) “music is quite naturally linked to wellbeing”; (c) “People often personify music in this way as a kind of ‘lay-therapist’.. or themselves as the lay music therapist using music as a tool for their own self-care in areas of energy and motivation, emotion and emotion regulation, identity, relationship, socialisation, restorative ‘asylum’, and self-reflective work in relation to everyday problems and challenges.” Similarly, in Sloboda’s (2005) study of emotional responses to music, he argues that “one feels understood and comforted in pain, sorrow, and bewilderment” and “through hearing emotions in someone else’s music it is possible to feel that emotions are shared and not your burden alone” (Sloboda, 2005, p. 204).

In my reading of the researchers’ narratives, these general themes are clearly present, even if some themes have a slightly different formulation. The quotations presented above are primarily professional researchers’ personal narratives and reflections, but they are also fine illustrations of music’s affordances and health promotion potential in general. During my analysis I have been moved by the intensity and depth of the unique experiences, but I have also been constantly reminded of functions, roles and potentials of health musicking in the literature. It is my impression that the strong and frequent musical experiences in childhood and adolescence, for example, those reported by Stuart Wood and Karette Stensæth, have influenced some of the researchers’ choice of career (including my own). Although this is not a conclusive statement, it could be an interesting focus for future research.

Health Themes in Aalborg MT Students and Authors’ Narratives

The three Health and Wellbeing themes that were identified in the thematic analysis of Aalborg university students were: energy and vitality, emotional catharsis, physical and emotional healing. Similar themes can be found in several of the studies included in the Music, Health and Wellbeing anthology (MacDonald et al., 2012), for example in Gembris’ (2012) survey of empirical studies investigating making music as a resource of health for amateur musicians and also for music listeners. In Gembris’ survey, "Identity and agency" and "Mood regulation" were the most important functions of music making and music listening in a health perspective.

In my own contribution to the anthology (Bonde 2013) I analyzed health themes in musical autobiographies written by Danish music therapy students enrolled in the Aalborg MT Masters program. A comparison of themes from the researchers’ narratives with themes from the music therapy students’ narratives are presented in table 6. Common sub-themes are presented in bold. The rest of the sub-themes were only present in data from the Danish student sample.

Table 6 A cross-comparison of health themes identified in narratives from a) students, b) researchers

Table 6. A cross-comparison of health themes identified in narratives from a) students, b) researchers
Music as mediator
Music for regulation of mood and emotions
Music for regulation of pain, tension and sleep
Music for regulation and stimulation of physical energy and stamina
Music for/as (physiological or psychological) healing
Music as an explorative field
Music as a free space
Music as expression, comfort and consolation
Music as confirmation and validation of values
Music as a pathway to God/as meditation/as altered state of consciousness
Music as promoter
Music to promote and enhance self-esteem, self-confidence and recognition
Music to promote interplay, community and social coherence


As illustrated in table 6, most of the themes and subthemes were present in both data samples. However, some of the categories in the Danish study were not identified in the researchers’ personal narratives. Some of the differences may be related to the simple fact that the researchers probably have more life experience and a more firmly established personal identity than many of the students, who are in their twenties or thirties. Some themes that are presented as important for the students in their ongoing identity construction, for example "music as as confirmation and validation of values" and "music as a free space", are so self-evident that they are not even mentioned by the professionals. They may have made just as many and as important “explorations” in music as the students, however they do not prioritise the reporting of such experiences in their narratives.

I found it surprising that a “Relaxation” theme was not identified in the analysis. In an ongoing (not yet published) Danish study on Music and Public Health, 65% of 14,000 respondents to a questionnaire reported that they used music for relaxation on a regular basis, which makes it the most common non-musical purpose of musicking[3]. There is no reason to think that the music researchers in this study do not use music for relaxation, however, this was not a major theme in the narratives. In some of the narratives words like “solace”, “comfort”, “calming down” were used, as in this quote: “When I was a little boy, maybe around five years old, I was anxious about the dark at bedtime….. [My cousin] often played Für Elise by Beethoven. And as I Iistened to her, I calmed down. It was like the music was a tranquilizer.” (Tom Næss) Pure relaxation is not mentioned anywhere and the music researchers seem to pay more attention to more complex mediation, as in the following quote. “Somehow, I managed to suppress my intellectual and analytical impulses and just give in to the feeling and go with it. When I came home, I felt, in a strange way, totally relaxed and exhausted at the same time. And surprised. Even amazed. It was hard to return to normal daily activities.” (Lars Lilliestam)

Cultural Perspectives

Both male and female researchers (and students) have contributed with narratives; however, the study has not revealed any substantial differences related to gender. All informants in the study were situated in a Western culture, and it is difficult to point at major, culturally based differences in their understanding of music’s affordances and their appropriations of these. The music therapy students tended to describe music as a pathway to religious or spiritual experiences more often than the researchers. This may be related to the academic socialization of the researchers – or to the fact that (Danish and especially Norwegian) music therapy students often enter the training program with a religious background and a firm Christian faith that influences their experience and understanding of the power of music. However, “Strong music experiences” (Gabrielsson, 2011) of non-religious or confessional character are present in both data sets, and some bear the stamp of a specific (sub)culture, as exemplified in this quote: “Some of my earliest memories are of the electric feeling of singing together in a small chapel in northern England. The hymns came from working-class Christian converts in the mining towns of the North West and North Wales.” (Stuart Wood)

Ideas for Future Research

The study was not planned as a true pilot study, but rather as a small exploratory study of a unique, auto-ethnographic data material, limited to the context of the anthology and the conference where it inspired me to consider that a more comprehensive and carefully planned qualitative study of processes of experience and transformation, including the influence of culture and gender, could be conducted in collaboration between Centre for Music and Health and Music Therapy AAU. Methodologically, a larger study should be based on a combination of free-formed narratives and semi-structured interviews with informants. Personal recollections and reflections in free form give depth and width to the narratives, while an interview guide could secure that most areas of interest were covered with each participant, also if they were not present in the narrative. In order to expand the cultural dimension of the study, I would concentrate on music therapy professionals and students and invite both male and female researchers from different cultures to participate. The first set of data would be a personal narrative written after guidelines to optimize trustworthiness and comparability; the second would be in-depth interviews with the participants that would later be analyzed according to the principles of Grounded Theory. The study would benefit from two arms: one with informants who are experienced clinicians and/or researchers, and one with music therapy students as informants. In this way, it would also be possible to include the ‘career’ theme, based on a question like: Do experiences of health musicking in childhood and adolescence influence the choice of professional career?


A thematic analysis of the narratives of 13 researchers showed that their reflections were very much in line with lay people in their general appreciation and appropriation of music’s affordances, as reported in the literature on music and health. When it comes specifically to "health musicking", the subthemes in the researchers’ narratives were very close to those identified in Danish music therapy students’ musical autobiographies. All three Health and wellbeing-themes and most of the subthemes were identified in both studies, indicating that there are more similarities than differences between the two groups of informants. In other words, there may be a special intensity or depth in some of the experiences recalled by the researchers, but no special trends or themes are identified in their narratives. The thematic analysis shows that the researchers (music therapists, music psychologists and sociologists) are in line with lay people in their lifelong engagement with music, including the potential of health promotion, and provide affirmation of Gembris’ conclusion.

Benefits from music-making like vitality, happiness, and connectedness to other people are among the most important goals in human life. Musical activities (not only) in old age appear to be a very good means to make and keep contacts. Therefore, musical activities can make a significant contribution to the quality of life, regardless of musical genre or skills. (Gembris, 2012, p. 377)


[1]Shorthand references for the material in the pilot study are (1) ”The anthology” = Bonde, Ruud, Skånland & Trondalen (Eds.) (2013), Musical life stories. narratives on health musicking Oslo: Centre for Music and Health, the Norwegian Academy of Music; (2) “The narratives” = the 13 personal narratives in the same anthology, pp. 339-60; (3) “The researchers” = The 13 contributors of personal narratives.

[2]9th European Music Therapy Conference, Oslo August 2013. The 4 editors and 2 authors participated in a round table with the same title as the anthology: Musical life stories. Narratives on health musicking.

[3]The other functions mentioned in the questionnaire were (in order of reported benefits): mood regulation, energy boost, concentration improvement, expression of emotions, knowing yourself better. Only 20% of the informants reported that they did not use music for anything particular in daily life. - The study is performed in a collaboration between Center for Music and Health, Music Therapy AAU and the Danish Institute of Public Health. Data are collected, and results will be reported 2014-15.


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