Resilient Senior Russian-Australian Voices: “We Live to Sing and Sing to Live”

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This research examines the understandings and meanings of shared music making held by the members of the Young Hearts Russian choir in Melbourne, Australia and its impact on quality of life. The elderly participants in this interpretative phenomenological case data are first generation migrants who speak most strongly in their first language (Russian). Individual semi-structured interviews were undertaken with nine people and focus group discussion involved all 28 choir members. Data collected in their first language revealed stories of survival and resilience in the face of adversity. The findings are reported under two broad themes: Maintaining independence and resilience (Subthemes: The importance of participation, Maintaining ‘face’, Overcoming illness and disability, and Becoming a family), and Learning, rehearsing and performing music. Singing together enhances quality of life, combats social isolation, fosters resilience and sense of autonomy, and allows participants to access inner resources to face the challenges of life. Supported and enacted via musical and social engagement, the participants continue to be resilient in older age as they are faced with the consequences of ageing, particularly infirmity and isolation. They remain protective of their independence and resistant to relegation to residential care.




Southcott, J., & Nethsinghe, R. (2019). Resilient Senior Russian-Australian Voices: “We Live to Sing and Sing to Live.” Applied Research in Quality of Life, 14(1), 39–58.

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