Lifelong Learning and Healthy Ageing: The Significance of Music as an Agent of Change

Rineke Smilde, Evert Bisschop Boele

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This chapter gives an overview on the Healthy Ageing research portfolio of the research group Lifelong Learning in Music (Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen, the Netherlands). Lifelong learning enables musicians to respond to the continuously changing context in which they are working nowadays, and ageing is one of the major societal changes for many western societies in the 21st century. Musicians are asked by society to contribute to healthy ageing processes, and such a contribution in turn generates possibilities for innovative musical practices with the elderly. We present a three-layered model to look at such innovative practices, which places the musical practice itself in the context of communicative characteristics of working with elderly people and in broader societal and institutional contexts. We then outline four concrete research projects: learning to play an instrument at an elderly age, creative music workshops for elderly in residential home settings, the competencies of creative music workshop leaders working with frail elderly people, and musical work with severely ill elderly people in hospitals. We describe some background values and methodological notions behind our work, and finish the article with a more extensive description of our project on Music and Dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationForschungsfeld Kulturgeragogik
Subtitle of host publicationResearch in Cultural Gerontology
Place of PublicationMünchen
PublisherKopaed Verlag
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

SeriesKulturelle Bildung


  • lifelong learning
  • music
  • dementia
  • healthy ageing


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