The Role of a Music Group Music in Addressing the Needs of Women and Children Seeking Asylum

  • Elizabeth Scott Hall

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Music’s capacity to bring about positive change in the areas of well-being and health for marginalised groups is well documented. This study examines the outcomes of musicking for a group of asylum seeking mothers who face particular challenges in the British socio-political landscape, in the areas of language and communication, cultural understanding and identity, and social and psychological well-being. This research interrogates notions of integration and examines ways in which the UK asylum system has further ‘othered’ the participants, whose sense of identity is dislocated, and whose anxieties may be transmitted to their children. The purpose of this thesis is to examine how musicking has been influential in addressing some of these challenges.
The progress of five mothers with children under three, who attended a Music for Mothers Seeking Asylum project, was followed for over three years. A journal, kept throughout the project and beyond it, and interview data were both analysed using an approach based on grounded theory. The use of an interpreter in interviews necessitated the use of back-translation in order to facilitate analysis of two of the interviews, which raised issues in the area of communication.
This study examines how musicking impacts on mood, self confidence and identity, language acquisition, and development of maternal and social interactions. It was found that group musicking has the capacity to provide a setting in which the participants experience ‘collaborative flow’ and the creation of a liminal space, leading to the emergence of communitas. This was found to be dependent upon the type of space in which musicking took place. Musicking provided a safe rehearsal space for the trying-out of new identities, contributed to increased self-confidence and led to language acquisition, closer maternal and social bonding, increased cultural understanding, and heightened mood which lasted beyond the musicking, into their daily lives.
Date of Award20 May 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorJune Boyce-Tillman (Supervisor) & Sandra Drower (Supervisor)

Cite this

The Role of a Music Group Music in Addressing the Needs of Women and Children Seeking Asylum
Scott Hall, E. (Author). 20 May 2013

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis