The Role of Music Among Healthy Older Performance Musicians
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This qualitative study explored the role of music in the lives of 18 healthy older performance musicians (PMs). PMs began music education in early childhood and developed music competencies of advanced, expert, and virtuoso by voice, instruments, and composing music. The phenomenology approach to data consisted of a 7-item demographic questionnaire, and an 18-semi-structured interview questionnaire. From the themes of community music participation, wellness, and happiness emerged 11 subthemes. The role of participating in community music validated PMs’ music identity. First, values and beliefs explained music was life and a livelihood; second, music participation continued for decades because conductors chose complex repertoires that encouraged learning, and showcased music competencies. Third, camaraderie and enduring relationships sustained social connectedness, and fourth worldwide travel was inherent to performance and socialization. The role of music and wellness supported PMs’ healthy aging through the life course. First, emotional wellness explained sense of self to trust and share emotions with others and aligning views of aging to make adaptations to aging processes when needed. Second, intellectual wellness explained the relationship between complex music and brain health. Third, physical wellness explained personal benefits of physical fitness, nutrition, and intellectual energy to performing music. Fourth, sociological wellness explained PMs’ favorite music connected with family, friends, and community. The role of music and happiness clarified motivations to needing and wanting challenging repertoires. First, lifelong learning of music was resultant to happiness, and, second, happiness was resultant to performing repertoires expertly, and third, performing music was exhilarating and fun despite the countless hours of practice to perform expertly. This study found that music was critical to PMs’ health, happiness, and well-being. Future research should include audiology because hearing loss is endemic among musicians. Furthermore, establishment of regional U.S. research teams should gather data on yearly cycles, and longitudinal qualitative studies to help build a base of knowledge on PMs, and bridge the gap in literature to reverse the current empty trend. These efforts will help make seminal contributions for all generations and society.