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Quality of life and artistic senior citizenship: a case study of the Helderberg village choir, South Africa

conference contribution
posted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by Dawn JosephDawn Joseph, Caroline van Niekerk
People around the globe are living longer; provision and support structures to accommodate the rapid increase of senior citizens thus present challenges and opportunities for all concerned. Increasingly seniors who remain active in their communities take offence at being labelled old, of poor health and physical capabilities, or lacking conceptual ability. Rather, many older people take an interest in increasing and extending their quality of life to enhance their mental, social and cognitive capacities. Many older people have the inclination and opportunity to participate in several informal and formal community activities that are engaging, exciting, entertaining and fun: ‘particip-action’. Such empowering and participatory meaningful engagement provides the opportunity for seniors to feel validated as they form ongoing social connections which enhance their well-being. This paper situates itself in the context of a privileged retirement home, Helderberg Village, and its choir, in the Cape Town area (South Africa). The research forms part of a wider study Spirituality and Well-being: Music in the community. The authors draw on 2016 questionnaire data and employ case study methodology that is exploratory, descriptive and explanatory. The aim of the case study was to explore why people come together to share music making and practice. The authors coded the data using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as an analytical tool. The focus is on two interrelated themes which emerged: quality of life and artistic senior citizenship, a newly coined term as an extension of the well-known general artistic citizenship and its applicability in the context of retirees’ musical activities. The findings show a strong commitment to music engagement for many who had felt socially isolated, lonely, unhappy and been widowed. It confirmed that active participation is personally fulfilling and music engagement may be empowering and transformative as learning is lifelong. Although this case study is a limitation in itself and generalisation cannot be made, it adds to the wider body of research that promotes active participation for all seniors in music, irrespective of their financial standing, social, physical or mental abilities.





Baku, Azerbaijan

Start date


End date






Publication classification

E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2018, International Society for Music Education (ISME)


Forrest D

Title of proceedings

ISME2018 : Proceedings of the 33rd World Conference of International Society for Music Education 2018


International Society for Music Education. Conference (33rd : 2018 : Baku, Azerbaijan)


International Society for Music Education

Place of publication

Malvern, Vic.


International Society for Music Education Conference