Deakin University

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The show must go on’: older entertainers making music in the community in Melbourne, Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2014-12-31, 00:00 authored by Dawn JosephDawn Joseph, J Southcott
Globally countries are faced with an aging population and Australia is no different. This creates challenges for the maintenance of well-being which can be enhanced by active engagement in society. There is extensive research that confirms that engagement in music by older people is positively related to individual and community wellbeing. Music engagement encompasses a range of social participation and has the potential to recognise the contribution of older people to their local communities. Music participation can contribute to a better quality of life, particularly in relation to health and happiness. There are many possible forms of music engagement. This study is part of an on-going Deakin University and Monash University research project, Well-being and ageing: community, diversity and the arts in Victoria. This article focuses on three members of a mixed voluntary singing group formed by older residents of an outer suburban community in Melbourne, Australia. This group, The Skylarkers, were established in 1999 as a four-part choir. Over the years the nature of the choir has changed under subsequent music directors. Since 2009 the group has focused on music theatre repertoire and performance style. Membership of the group is fluid reflecting changing life circumstances of the members but the ensemble is resilient. This small amateur music theatre group is based in suburban Melbourne, rehearses weekly and performs regularly at retirement villages, nursing homes and facilities for senior citizens. This article presents a phenomenological qualitative single case study of members of the Skylarkers. In this study, interview data were gathered in 2011-2012 and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Two significant themes emerged that concern musical self-identity and gaining a sense of purpose and fulfilment. The Skylarkers are more than a choir; they are an amateur entertainment troupe that engages with each other and the wider community. This resilient group holds true to the motto ‘the show must go on’.



Australian Journal of Music Education






Parkville, Victoria





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal, C Journal article

Copyright notice

2014, Australian Society of Music Education




Australian Society of Music Education