September 11, 2018

Music and Wellness as We Age

BOOK REVIEW BY BILL FRASER

The authors note in the preface  that Active Ageing with Music is a resource for those “working in the fields of music, education, or psychology of music” and that this book will be of interest to individual older adults who are interested in how they may preserve and sustain their cognitive, social, and emotional well-being throughout the latter stages of their lives.

The introduction is filled with charts and statistics. Because the research was done in the United Kingdom, some of the institutions and programs referred to are specific to the UK.

There are three main sections. Each deals with aspects of the social, emotional, mental, and physical health benefits of being involved in music. Social interaction, one of the biggest benefits of being involved in music programs, that can give purpose and reason for getting up and getting out of the house to interact with others. The book even suggests how to arrange rooms for tea and visiting — and music. While the music is important, so is the social interaction.

Physical benefits of vocal music are described as reduced stress, and improved posture, flexibility, and lung capacity. Warm-up exercises include those for stretching, breathing, and proper posture. This light physical exercise carries over into everyday life. Singing, while enjoyable, is also work and provides a level of exercise that singers may not even realize. The writers also note that there is an emotional and social feeling that comes from being part of a group that is creating some great music.

The final pages deal with motivation and overcoming a lack of self-confidence that may stop individuals from joining such a group. The writers also stress the need for people to work with reticent individuals and encourage them to join a group.

Finally, the book has personal comments and observations from individuals that speak very strongly of the benefits of music in their lives. Each chapter contains personal testimonials from seniors about what music has meant to them. Many testimonials are from those in their 70s and 80s and speak of the pleasure and value that they see in their participation in these music programs.

Active Ageing with Music: Supporting Wellbeing in the Third and Fourth Ages
By Andrea Creech, Susan Hallam, Maria Varvarigou, and Hilary McQueen
Stylus Publishing, 2014
Paperback, 202 pages
Not available as an ebook
Available in the ATA Library, Barnett House