Students' and retirees' experiences of creating personally meaningful songs within a therapeutic context

F. A Baker, Raymond MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study investigated the songwriting experiences of 13 students and 13 retirees who engaged in quasi-therapeutic songwriting experiences. Method: Each participant created a song parody, original lyrics and an original song in randomised order. Each song was written on one of three separate themes: a positive experience, a negative experience and a neutral experience. Participants were interviewed about their experiences after the creation of each song and again at 6-week follow-up. Interviews were transcribed and analysed according to grounded theory methods. Twelve participants responded to invitations to review the themes and subthemes. Results: Five main themes emerged: artistic concerns; initial expectations; responses to listening to one's own song creations; exploring the self; and relationship with the therapist. Flow experiences of being fully immersed in the activity, altered perception of time and experiencing a balance between ability and effort were especially evident in people's description of their creative processes. The younger generation was more likely to use their song creations for further therapeutic benefit. Conclusions: Songwriting was an enjoyable means to exploring the self, enhancing mood and creating a satisfying artistic product. Future research should focus on the impact of the facilitator on the perceived experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-82
Number of pages15
JournalArts and Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Music
  • songwriting
  • music therapy
  • qualitative data analysis


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