New book 'Collaborative Insights’ takes an interdisciplinary approach to how musical care is understood and undertaken during different stages of a person’s life, offering perspectives from practitioners and what the research evidence says.

By Mr Shamim Quadir (Senior Communications Officer), Published

Co-edited by academics from City, University of London and the Royal College of Music, a new book introduces the term ‘musical care’: the role that music - music listening as well as music-making – can play in supporting aspects of a person’s developmental and health needs, including for their physical and mental health, cognitive and behavioural development, and interpersonal relationships.

Entitled, Collaborative Insights: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Musical Care Throughout the Life Course’, it is a compendium of up-to-date knowledge on musical care and is aimed to act as a resource for anybody involved in the field to learn from and to influence their own practice or research - from music therapists working with children with special needs; to palliative care nurses seeking to introduce musical care to their practice; to academic researchers seeking to investigate the role of music in care contexts.

First in a series of eight animated videos, Musical care throughout the life course, that summarise the key ideas of each chapter in the book.

It is the first book to provide interdisciplinary insights into how musical care is understood and undertaken during different stages of a person’s life, sharing a variety of perspectives from practitioners and academic researchers to create a holistic overview of how musical care may be delivered in different settings.

Each chapter has been written collaboratively by a music therapist and an academic in a related discipline (e.g. developmental psychology, music psychology, sociology); focuses on one life stage from infancy to the end of life; and provides a brief overview of musical care during that life stage, citing the supporting evidence, and offering new calls to action to inspire further work to better implement or understand musical care.

The eight chapters of the book are:

  • Introduction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Musical Care Throughout the Life Course
  • Musical Care in Infancy: Supporting Infants and their Caregivers
  • Musical Care in Childhood: How Music Nurtures the Developing Child
  • Musical Care in Adolescence: Supporting Healthy Musical Identities and Uses of Music
  • Musical Care in Adulthood: Sounding Our Way Through the Landscape
  • Musical Care in Older Age: A Score for Healthy Ageing
  • Musical Care at the End of Life: Palliative Care Perspectives and Emerging Practices
  • Synthesis: The Future of Musical Care

The book is also the cornerstone of a wider initiative to expand awareness of musical care as a concept and to drive new collaborations and interdisciplinary learning.

Created by the book’s editors, the ‘Musical Care’ website contains a number of resources including a fun and freely accessible series of animations outlining to a general audience the roles of musical care in each of the six life stages, matching the chapters of the book.

Launch for the book at the Royal College of Music.

Filmed at the Royal College of Music, a launch video to the book features the editors and other experts in the field discuss the importance of the book, the musical care network the editors have set up, and the accessible animations.

Co-editor of the book, Dr Katie Rose Sanfilippo, Research Fellow at the Centre for Healthcare Innovation Research at City, University of London said:

“We are delighted to have such a highly experienced and wide-ranging team of authors contribute. We hope that discussion of this book brings together all those interested in musical care, including music therapists, music psychologists, music educators and the public, to explore through collaboration and interdisciplinary working, the potential place of musical care throughout our lives.”

Co-editor, Dr Neta Spiro, Reader at the Centre for Performance Science at the Royal College of Music said:

“Alongside the book we have developed the interdisciplinary network Musical Care International to welcome discussion and connection among the wide range of people that musical care touches around the world. We hope to get more people involved in this conversation.”

Commenting on the book, Raymond MacDonald, Chair of Music Psychology and Improvisation, University of Edinburgh said:

“This is a fabulous book. Written by some of the world's leading researchers, each chapter is beautifully crafted to convey how music is a fundamental feature of human existence across the whole life. An essential read for anyone interested in the relationship between music and wellbeing.”

Helen Odell Miller, OBE PhD, Professor of Music Therapy and Director of the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR) at Anglia Ruskin University said:

This fascinating book shows how music can enhance and transform care for infants, children, young people, adults, and older people living with a wide range of diverse needs, in different communities across the world.

The book is published by Oxford University Press (OUP) and currently available at the OUP website, on Blackwell’s Bookstore website and on