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Musical Engagement and Psychological Need Satisfaction in Later Life: Experiences from Community Older Musicians in Hong Kong

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Abstract

Adults entering later life encounter significant life events and transitions. The challenges of adjusting to major life changes can undermine one’s well-being. Research has shown that musical engagement in community settings can increase older adults’ subjective well-being by addressing their social and emotional needs. Guided by the Basic Psychological Needs Theory (BPNT), this study examines the experiences of older adults actively engaged in community music-making and considers the links between active musical engagement and healthy aging. A focus group was formed from ten male participants of or approaching retirement age (aged 52–70), recruited from a community wind band in Hong Kong where members regularly practiced, rehearsed, and performed music together. Details of how musical engagement led to experiences of psychological need support and fulfillment were captured in three semi-structured interviews and analyzed using a two-step deductive and inductive approach. Preliminary findings reveal that active musical engagement is supportive of older adults’ psychological needs for competence, relatedness and autonomy through multiple pathways, resulting in enhanced well-being. Findings also suggest that support for one or more needs can have a facilitating effect on the satisfaction of other needs. To conclude, this study provides key support for the universality of core characteristics that make musical engagement an effective agent in healthy aging. It also provides illustrations of need-supportive practices in a unique setting comprising of older men as beginners on the journey of active musical engagement in the community. BPNT provides a useful approach to shed light on psychological mechanisms underlying positive experiences of musical engagement in later life and has the potential to explain its contribution to healthy aging across different cultures. Future research should continue to identify and evaluate need-supportive practices in musical engagement to promote healthy aging across the population.

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Correspondence to Anna Wong .

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Wong, A. (2020). Musical Engagement and Psychological Need Satisfaction in Later Life: Experiences from Community Older Musicians in Hong Kong. In: Ng, B., Ho, G. (eds) Self-Determination Theory and Healthy Aging. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-6968-5_5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-6968-5_5

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