A duoethnography about musicking at an older adult care home during COVID-19 — Catrien Wentink & Liesl van der Merwe

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A duoethnography about musicking at an older adult care home during COVID-19

Catrien Wentink & Liesl van der Merwe


Loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a global problem. Older adults, who are considered high-risk individuals, have been particularly impacted and have experienced increased isolation and loneliness. Musicians also experienced loneliness during the lockdown period. Therefore, the purpose of this duoethnography is to explore the culturally situated meanings two research participants ascribe to musicking at an older adult care home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research participants are two community musicians who have facilitated weekly musicking sessions at an older adult care home for the past five years. During the hard lockdown, we serenaded the older adults in the street in front of the care home. Our data collection was stimulated by photos, session plans, song choices, diary reflections, and individual accounts. To explore our dialogical understanding, we used storytelling and Pinar’s (1975) four step method of currere, namely regressive, progressive, synthesis and analysis. The findings indicated that musicking during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed us to share and express compassion and care towards the older adult residents and each other. We, therefore, argue that musicking, with the necessary hygienic precautions, should be encouraged as a form of reciprocal care during a global pandemic.


musicking, duoethnography, older adult care home, currere, ethics of care, COVID-19


Catrien Wentink received her D.Mus degree in piano performance at the North-West University in 2018, where she specialised in ensemble performance. She did her research on Dalcroze Eurhythmics and ensembles. Catrien has delivered conference papers and published nationally and internationally. She is also actively involved in community music since 2018. As a performer she received the ABRSM performance licentiate (solo piano) and the Unisa performance licentiate (two pianos) with distinction in 2009. She performs regularly as accompanist, and chamber musician. She is currently a senior lecturer in Music theory at the School of Music of the North-West University, South Africa [Catrien.wentink@nwu.ac.za]

Liesl van der Merwe is a professor in the School of Music at the North-West University, South Africa. Her research interests lie in music and well-being, Positive Psychology in music education, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, music and spirituality, and lived musical experiences. She supervises postgraduate studies and teaches research methodology, music education and bassoon. She has published articles in high impact journals such as Psychology of Music, Journal of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Research in Music Education, Music Education Research and Frontiers in Psychology. Liesl also performs in chamber music ensembles and is the conductor of the North-West Youth Orchestra. [Liesl.vandermerwe@nwu.ac.za]