Harmonizing music memories as a part of life story


  • Kimmo Lehtonen, Prof. Dr. Turku University, Finland
  • Antti Juvonen, Prof. Dr. School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education on the Savonlinna Campus, University of Eastern Finland
  • Heikki Ruismäki, Prof. Dr. Helsinki University in the Faculty of Behavioral Sciences in Helskinki, Finland


music education, musical memories, mental images, diary techniques, crystallizing experiences, psychic harmony, emancipation


When the meanings of music education are explored, the clear significance of music as a part of civilization and culture is often mentioned. Indeed, music also has a strong instrumental meaning as it offers harmonizing cultural experiences through the memories and imaginings that remain throughout life, reminding the listener of important interactions, people, and experiences. These experiences are interwoven in many ways with identity and its construction. Important music experiences follow everyone from childhood to old age. Songs from childhood can even have an impact on old people’s memories and strengthen their quality of life and feelings of coherence, especially if they are affected by dementia or other memory illnesses. This article is based on 217 stories that respondents wrote about music experiences connected to important experiences in life. The themes of the stories were handled through content analysis and they focus on changes in human life phases and the problems of growing up. These changes are characterized by smooth periods interspersed with traumatic periods where music has significantly helped in the processing of the life problems. From the music education point of view, the results stress the special meaning of experimental music listening as a promoter of pupils’ personality and emotional life.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Kimmo Lehtonen, Prof. Dr., Turku University, Finland

Kimmo Lehtonen is a Professor at Turku University in the Teacher Education Department, Finland

Antti Juvonen, Prof. Dr., School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education on the Savonlinna Campus, University of Eastern Finland

Professor at the University of Eastern Finland, in the Philosophical Faculty in the School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education on the Savonlinna Campus

Heikki Ruismäki, Prof. Dr., Helsinki University in the Faculty of Behavioral Sciences in Helskinki, Finland

Professor at Helsinki University in the Faculty of Behavioral Sciences in Helskinki, Finland


Abma, T.I. (2002). Emerging narrative forms of knowledge representations in the health sciences: Two texts in a postmodern context. Qualitative Health Research, 12, 5-27.

Airaksinen, E., Wahlin, Å., Larsson, M., & Forsell, Y. (2006). Cognitive and social functioning in recovery from depression: Results from a population-based three-year follow-up. Journal of Affective Disorders, 96(1-2), 107-110.

Amir, D. (1996). Experiencing music therapy: Meaningful moments in the music therapy process. In M. Langenberg, K. Aigen, & J. Frommer (Eds.), Music therapy research: Beginning dialogues. 109-130. New Jersey: Barcelona Publishers.

Arvilommi, P. (1998). Narratiivinen terapia. (Narrative therapy, in Finnish.) Perheterapia 2.

Bolger, N., Davis, A., & Rafaeli, E. (2003). Diary methods: Capturing life as it is lived. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 579-616.

Bruner, J. (1987). Life as narrative. Social Research, 54(1), 11-32.

Bruner, J. (1991). The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry, 18, 1-21.

Burr, V. (1995). An introduction to social constructionism. Routledge: London.

Czarniawska, B. (1998). A narrative approach to organization studies. Qualitative Research Methods Series 43. A Sage University Paper. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks.

Dewey, J. (1929/2012). Filosofian uudistaminen. (The renewing of the philosophy, in Finnish.) Tampere: Vastapaino.

Freeman, C. (1999). The crystallizing experience: A study of musical precocity. Gifted Child Quarterly, 43(2), 75-84.

Gubrium, J.F. & Holstein, J.A. (1997). The new language of qualitative method. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hatch, J.A. & Wisniewski, R. (1995). Life history and narrative: Questions, issues, and exemplary

works. In J.A. Hatch & R. Wisniewski (Eds.), Life history and narrative (pp. 113-133). London: Falmer.

Heikkinen, L.T.H. (2001). Toimintatutkimus, tarinat ja opettajaksi tulemisen taito. Narratiivisen

identiteettityön kehittäminen opettajankoulutuksessa toimintatutkimuksen avulla. (Action research, narratives and the skill of becoming a teacher. Developing narrative identity work in teacher education through action research, in Finnish.) Jyväskylä, Jyväskylän yliopisto. Väitöskirja.

Huhtanen, K. (2004). Pianistista soitonopettajaksi. Tarinat naisten kokemusten merkityksellistäjinä. (A pianist becoming a piano teacher. Narratives giving meaning to the experiences of women, in Finnish.)

Studia Musica 22. Sibelius-Akatemia. Hakapaino: Helsinki.

Hyvärinen, M. (1998). Thick and thin narratives: Thickness of description, expectation, and causality.

Cultural Studies: A Research Volume, 3, 149-174.

Hyvärinen, M. (2004). Eletty ja kerrottu kertomus. (A narrative lived and told, in Finnish.) Sosiologia 4, 297-309.

Hänninen, V. (1999). Sisäinen tarina, elämä ja muutos. (Inner story, life and change, in Finnish.) Acta Universitas Tamperensis 696, Vammalan kirjapaino Oy, Vammala.

Jung, C.G. (1964/1991). Symbolit. Piilotajunnan kieli. (Symbols, the language of inner conscience, in Finnish.) Helsinki: Otava.

Juslin, P., Lijestrom, S., & Vastfjall, D. (2008). An experience sampling study of emotional reactions to music: Listener, music, and situation. Emotion, 8(5), 668-683.

Kallio, M. (2005). Ajatus kuvasta. Kuvan merkityksen pohdintaa kasvatuksen kontekstissa. (On visualization. The significance of the image in educational content, in Finnish.) Akateeminen väitöskirja.

Helsingin yliopiston käyttäytymistieteellisen tiedekunnan tutkimuksia: 262.

Klein, M. (1936). The psychogenesis of manic-depressive states. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 16, 145-175.

Labov, W. (1972). Language in the inner city. Studies in the black English vernacular. Philadelphia:

University of Pennsylvania Press.

Lamont, A. & Webb, R. (2010). Short- and long-term musical preferences: What makes a favourite

piece of music? Psychology of Music, 38(2), 222-241.

Lehtonen, K. (1988). Musiikin ja psykoterapian suhteesta. (About the relationship between music and psychotherapy, in Finnish.) Psykiatrian tutkimussäätiön julkaisusarja: Report 79.

Lehtonen, K. (1993). Musiikki sitomisen välineenä. (Music as a tool for binding, in Finnish.) Psykiatrian tutkimussäätiön julkaisusarja: Report 106.

Lehtonen, K. & Niemelä, M. (1997). Kielikuvista mielikuviin. (From metaphors to mental images, in Finnish.) Musiikin monikerroksisen kerronnallisuuden tarkastelua esimerkkiaineistona psykiatristen

potilaiden tärkeäksi kokema musiikki. From Turun yliopiston kasvavatustieteiden tiedekunta: A 177.

Lehtonen, K. (2007). Musiikki kasvun voimavarana. (Music as a fertilizer for growth, in Finnish.) In K.

Lehtonen (Ed.), Musiikin symboliset ulottuvuudet. (pp. 21-24) (Symbolic dimensions of music, in Finnish.) Suomen musiikkiterapiayhdistys ry.

Lin, M.-F., Hsu, M., Chang, H.-J., Hsu, Y., Chou, M.-H., & Crawford, P. (2010). Pivotal moments and changes in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music for patients with depression. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19(7-8), 1139-1148.

Lukinsky, J. (1995). Refleksiivinen vetäytyminen päiväkirjan avulla. (Reflexive withdrawal through a diary, in Finnish.) In J. Mezirow (Ed.) Uudistava oppiminen: Kriittinen reflektio aikuiskoulutuksessa 233-256. (Renewal learning: Critical reflections in adult education, in Finnish.) Helsingin yliopiston Lahden tutkimus-ja koulutuskeskuksen oppimateriaaleja, 23.

Löfblom, K. (2013). Nuorten kokemien elämysten yksilölliset ja yhteisölliset merkitykset. (The individual and communal meanings of youngsters’ experiences, in Finnish.) Turun yliopiston julkaisuja – Annales Universitatis Turkuensis Sarja – Ser C: 358.

MacIntyre, A.C. (1981). After virtue: A study in moral theory. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Mishler, E.G. (1986). Research interviewing. Context and narrative. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Myllyniemi, R. (2004). Miten ymmärtää ja luokitella tunteita. (How to understand and classify emotions, in Finnish.) In V. Hänninen & O-H. Ylijoki (Eds.), Muuttuuko ihminen? (pp. 19-48.) (Does a human being change? in Finnish.) Tampereen yliopistopaino.

North, A.C., Hargreaves, D.J., & Hargreaves, J.J. (2004). Uses of music in everyday life. Music Perception, 22(1), 41-77.

Orr, P. (2007). Art therapy with children after a disaster: A content analysis. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 34(4), 350-361.

Pickard, A. & Bailey, R. (2009). Crystallising experiences among young elite dancers. Sport, Education and Society, 14(2), 165-180.

Poirier, S. & Ayres, L. (1997). Focus on qualitative methods. Endings, secrets and silences: Overreading in narrative inquiry. Research in Nursing and Health, 20, 551-557.

Progoff, I. (1973a). Jung, synchronity and human destiny. New York: Dell.

Progoff, I. (1973b). The symbolic and the real. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Progoff, I. (1975). At the journal workshop. New York: Dialogue House Library.

Progoff, I. (1980). The practice of process meditation. New York: Dialogue House Library.

Rechardt, E. & Ikonen, P. (1990). Sitominen psyykkisessä tapahtumassa. (Binding in a psychic event, in Finnish.) Psykiatrian tutkimussäätiön julkaisusarja: Report 26.

Riessman, C.K. (1993). Narrative analysis. Qualitative Research Methods, Volume 30. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

Saarikallio, S.H. (2008). Music in mood regulation: Initial scale development. Musicae Scientiae, 12(2), 291-309.

Schäfer, T., Tipandjan, A., & Sedlmeier, P. (2012). The functions of music and their relationship to music preference in India and Germany. International Journal of Psychology, 47(5), 370-380.

Sloboda, J. (2008). Science and music: The ear of the beholder. Nature, 454(7200), 32-33.

Sloboda, J.A. (2010). Music in everyday life: The role of emotions. In P.N. Juslin & J.A. Sloboda (Eds.), Handbook of music and emotion: Theory, research, applications (pp. 493-515). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Taneli, M. (2012). Kasvatus on kasvamaan saattamista. Kasvatusfilosofinen tutkimus J.A. Hollo sivistyskasvatusajattelusta. (Education is bringing to grow. J.A. Hollo’s educational thinking, in Finnish.)

Akateeminen väitöskirja. Turun yliopiston julkaisuja – Annales Universitatis Turkuensis, sarja C: 351.

Thiele, C., Laireiter, A., & Baumann, U. (2002). German diary-methods in clinical psychology and psychotherapy – A review. Zeitschrift fur klinische psychologie und psychoterapie, 31(3), 178-193.

Thoma, M.V. (2011). Listening to music and physiological and psychological functioning: The mediating role of emotion regulation and stress reactivity. Psychology & Health, 27(2), 1-15.

Thoma, M., Ryf, S., Mohiyeddini, C., Ehlert, U., & Nater, U. (2012). Emotion regulation through listening to music in everyday situations. Cognition & Emotion, 26(3), 550-560.

Torvinen, J. (2007). Musiikki ahdistuksen taitona: Filosofinen tutkimus musiikin eksistentiaalis-ontologisesta merkityksestä. (Music as a skill of anxiety. Philosophical study of music’s existential-

ontologic significance, in Finnish.) Helsingin yliopisto, humanistinen tiedekunta, taiteiden tutkimuksen laitos. Väitöskirja.

van Goethem, A. & Sloboda, J. (2011). The functions of music for affect regulation. Musicae Scientiae, 15(2), 208-228.

Vieillard, S., Roy, M., & Peretz, I. (2012). Expressiveness in musical emotions. Psychological Research, 76(5), 641-653.

Vuoskoski, J. & Eerola, T. (2012). Can sad music really make you sad? Indirect measures of affective states induced by music and autobiographical memories. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 6(3), 204-213.

Wethington, E., Cooper, H., & Holmes, C. (1997). Turning points in midlife. In I. Gotlib & B. Wheaton (Eds.), Stress and adversity over the life course: Trajectories and turning points (pp. 215-231). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Willis, P. (1978). Profane culture. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.

Winnicott, D.W. (1966). The location of the cultural experience. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 48, 369-372.




How to Cite

Lehtonen, K., Juvonen, A., & Ruismäki, H. (2013). Harmonizing music memories as a part of life story. Journal of Social Sciences (COES&Amp;RJ-JSS), 2(3), 167–185. Retrieved from https://centreofexcellence.net/index.php/JSS/article/view/jss.2013.