Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Dr. David S. Smith

Second Advisor

Edward A. Roth

Third Advisor

Dr. Kenneth H. Smith


Music, age labels, elderly, context analysis, older adults

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The life expectancy rate of advanced age individuals has increased dramatically in recent years, creating a greater need for research topics related to this segment of the population. Smith (2009) completed a content analysis of the use of age labels describing this advanced age group using dissertations and theses produced between 1983 and 2008. This current investigation replicated the process used in the earlier study using dissertations and theses completed between 2009 and 2016. The same search procedure, inclusion criteria, and analysis protocol was used, in order to be able to evaluate changes which may have occurred over time. A keyword search of the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database using the search terms “music and older adult,” “music and elderly,” “music and senior citizen,” and “music and well-elderly” resulted in 90 documents. 33 documents met the inclusion criteria of: (1) only research with human participants; (2) only research related to music education, psychology, or therapy issues; and (3) both an abstract and a full-text document had to be available online through the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database. Data, in the form of age labels, age ranges, age definitions, participant descriptions, and research locations were collected from each of the documents, and were examined for their consistency of use within the 2009-2016 period, as well as between the two time periods. Within the current time period, the age label “older adult” was the most frequently used term, appearing in all of the documents. Reporting age ranges in the documents was inconsistent, and precise definitions of age labels were not given, but health-related descriptions of participants were included in most documents. Comparisons between the two time periods indicated a trend toward increased research with advanced age individuals as participants, particularly in music therapy and music psychology related topics, and an increased use of 65 years of age as an inclusion criterion. The use of multiple labels for segments of the older population was minimal in both time periods. Future investigations were recommended to expand the scope of research to journal publications, and academic documents outside of the United States.