School of Education
Professional musicians with strong identities in music may also have a high degree of music in their identities. Accordingly, a rigid identification with work may be problematic for musicians, particularly when forces beyond their control change their work circumstances. In this study, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 10 singing teachers, representing a subset of professional musicians, and used interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to explore the ways in which they enacted music in their identities. The framework of musical identities in action was used to interpret the findings, revealing the dynamic, embodied, and situated complexity of music in participants’ identities. Music had existential salience in the accounts of nine participants. Its salience resulted from the dynamic and situated presence of music across the lifespan, the literal embodiment of the singing voice, and the metaphorical embodiment of the presence of music in participants’ experiences. While a strong sense of music in people’s identities can promote lifelong engagement with music, if the emphasis on music is existential, the identity of a professional musician may be at risk when they are faced with an external threat to their livelihood. This is important knowledge for music educators and professional musicians’ career thinking.
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