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The Edinburgh Lifetime Musical Experience Questionnaire (ELMEQ): Responses and non-musical correlates in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936

Okely, Judith A.; Deary, Ian J.; Overy, Katie

Authors

Judith A. Okely

Ian J. Deary

Katie Overy



Abstract

There is growing evidence of the potential effects of musical training on the human brain, as well as increasing interest in the potential contribution of musical experience to healthy ageing. Conducting research on these topics with older adults requires a comprehensive assessment of musical experience across the lifespan, as well as an understanding of which variables might correlate with musical training and experience (such as personality traits or years of education). The present study introduces a short questionnaire for assessing lifetime musical training and experience in older populations: the Edinburgh Lifetime Musical Experience Questionnaire (ELMEQ). 420 participants from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 completed the ELMEQ at a mean age of 82 years. We used their responses to the ELMEQ to address three objectives: 1) to report the prevalence of lifetime musical experience in a sample of older adults; 2) to demonstrate how certain item-level responses can be used to model latent variables quantifying experience in different musical domains (playing a musical instrument, singing, self-reported musical ability, and music listening); and 3) to examine non-musical (lifespan) correlates of these domains. In this cohort, 420 of 431 participants (97%) completed the questionnaire. 40% of participants reported some lifetime experience of playing a musical instrument, starting at a median age of 10 years and playing for a median of 5 years. 38% of participants reported some lifetime experience of singing in a group. Non-musical variables of childhood environment, years of education, childhood cognitive ability, female sex, extraversion, history of arthritis and fewer constraints on activities of daily living were found to be associated, variously, with the domains of playing a musical instrument, singing, self-reported musical ability, and music listening. The ELMEQ was found to be an effective research tool with older adults and is made freely available for future research.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 22, 2021
Online Publication Date Jul 15, 2021
Publication Date Jul 15, 2021
Deposit Date Jul 18, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 18, 2022
Journal PLOS ONE
Print ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 7
Article Number e0254176
DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254176
Public URL http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/Output/2889433

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