International Health Humanities Network Impact Reports and Narrative

Rhythm for Life: Music Making and Wellbeing Enhancement for Older Adults

Short Description

The Rhythm for Life project has aimed to enhance wellbeing among older adults through the implementation and evaluation of creative music making initiatives. Run from the Royal College of Music’s (RCM) Centre for Performance Science, the project facilitated music learning opportunities for over 100 adults between 2010 and 2012, all of which were delivered by specially-trained and supported RCM students. Adult learners, aged 50 years and over, participated in free 10-week programmes designed for musical beginners, including one-to-one instrumental lessons in learners’ homes, small-group instrumental lessons in community spaces, and large-group creative music workshops. 

Full Impact Narrative

Centre for Performance Science,
Royal College of Music

Project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (2010-12)

The Rhythm for Life project has aimed to enhance wellbeing among older adults through the implementation and evaluation of creative music making initiatives. Run from the Royal College of Music’s (RCM) Centre for Performance Science, the project facilitated music learning opportunities for over 100 adults between 2010 and 2012, all of which were delivered by specially-trained and supported RCM students. Adult learners, aged 50 years and over, participated in free 10-week programmes designed for musical beginners, including one-to-one instrumental lessons in learners’ homes, small-group instrumental lessons in community spaces, and large-group creative music workshops. 

Concurrent to the practical provision, the project explored the impact of music-making on subjective wellbeing. Mixed-methods quantitative and qualitative data reveal that engaging in music making improves subjective wellbeing and engagement in health-promoting behaviours, accounted for through six interconnected themes: (1) subjective experiences of pleasure, (2) enhanced social interactions, (3) musically nuanced engagement in day-to-day life, (4) fulfilment of musical ambition, (5) ability to make music, and (6) self-satisfaction through musical progress. The project’s powerful data, coupled with high demand for music making among older adults, strongly support the place of creative music making and learning in healthy ageing agendas. For further information on the project, please visit www.rcm.ac.uk/rhythmforlife.

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