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Singing in later life: the anatomy of a community choir

Lamont, A; Murray, M; Hale, R; Wright-Bevans, K

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M Murray

R Hale


Previous research has highlighted the individual and social benefits of participation in arts activities for physical, psychological and social well-being. However, less is known about the transformative community aspects of the arts and very few studies have investigated arts participation over a substantial period. This article reports a case study of an older people’s choir over a 4-year period, involving interviews, focus groups, observations and a World Café participatory discussion. In support of previous literature, choir members highlighted many individual and interpersonal benefits of being part of the choir. They also emphasised the importance of developing social relationships within a supportive community, and the importance of musical achievement was central to the ongoing development of the choir. Our analysis identified five main themes: personal investment and reward; inclusive community; always evolving yet fundamentally unchanged; a desire to connect; and leadership and organisation. Considering these with reference to Seligman’s PERMA framework from positive psychology, it is apparent that social relationships, meaning and accomplishment are particularly emphasised as reasons why older people find singing in a community choir so beneficial for well-being. Sustainability is a major concern, and factors such as an expert music leader to support this are identified.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 1, 2017
Publication Date May 1, 2018
Journal Psychology of Music
Print ISSN 0305-7356
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Issue 3
Pages 424-439
Keywords ageing, arts and health, choirs, community music, well-being
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