Experience teaches us that people who take up an instrument after retirement are well able to master the instrument. Moreover making music has beneficial effects on well-being as well as cognitive scope. Teaching music to elderly people is a field which offers opportunities for professional music teachers. There are many questions about how to effectively teach elderly people and how to approach them as a target group. The existing body of literature in many cases does not answer these questions. To further develop music education at an advanced age the research group Lifelong Learning in Music & the Arts carried out research in this field.
The research results were disseminated at a symposium in June 2012 and an online knowledge bank (Dutch) was developed aimed at teachers interested in teaching people in an advanced age.
Online knowledge bank (Dutch)
Healthy Ageing in Music & the Arts
The research project ‘Music & the Elderly’ is part of the research strand ‘Healthy Ageing through Music & the Arts’ of the research group. The aim of the project was to explore a growing market in music education: the practice of instrumental/vocal music teaching to people at an advanced age. In the project this group was not strictly limited to persons over the age of 65. Any people showing the characteristics of the so-called third and fourth stages of life were included: the phase of work has ended or is ending soon, people tend to have more time for themselves.
Practice based research
Based on action research, with professional music teachers as co-researchers, the research group carried out practice based research into professional music teaching to people at an advanced age. The collaboration with people working in this profession was essential to this research project. Experiences and questions from professional music teachers were the starting point from which new teaching methods were developed, specifically aimed at teaching people at an advanced age.
Phases in the research project
Three project phases were part of the research project. In the first phase (2010-2011) an inventory of concrete issues and questions related to teaching people at an advanced age was made with experienced music teachers.These questions were the guidelines for developing new teaching methods and ways to approach this specific market. At the beginning of 2011 a meeting about the first results was held with the participating teachers, based on these issues and questions: Powerpoint presentation research Music & the Elderly January 7 - 2011 (Dutch). Related to this presentation an interview with a local radio station was broadcast: Radio interview (Dutch) and an article was published in the local newspaper Dagblad van het Noorden: Article Music and the Elderly (Dutch). Antother article was published in the 'Nederlands Dagblad' about the research. The methods and approaches which were developed, were tested in practice in music lessons to people of an advanced age.
In the second project phase (2011-2012) a group of ‘novices’ was involved: recently graduated music teachers who shared the ambition to teach people of an advanced age and who would do so according to the developed methods and models.
In the third phase (spring-summer 2012) the project was concluded and the results disseminated.
In addition to the participation of a core group of teachers and institutions the research group has connections with similar projects in and outside The Netherlands, in particular the project ‘Rhythm for Life - Music Making and Wellbeing Enhancement for Older Adults’ of the Royal College of Music London. In the period of 2010-2012 Rhythm for Life provides a programme of instrumental lessons and workshops by music students to underprivileged people at an advanced age. The results of this programme are researched. The leader of this project, Rosie Perkins, is one of the researchers of the research group Lifelong Learning in Music.
Institutions and people involved in the project
The main focus of the project was monitored by a consortium consting of the research group Lifelong Learning in Music (Evert Bisschop Boele and Eduard Heyning), two professional music teachers / entrepreneurs ((Michelle van de Braak, Willemien Feenstra), Cultuurnetwerk Nederland CNL (Josefiene van Steenwijk – Poll) and the Stedelijke Muziekschool Groningen (Jan Roemeling). The teachers/researchers were Peter Mak, Tine Stolte, Karolien Dons and Winfred Buma; Ben Boog was involved in the project as an advisor on methodological matters.
More information on this project: www.hanze.nl/ouderenenmuziek.