Working together: Implications of leadership style for the music ensemble

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Journal of Music Education




Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)




Sutherland, A., & Cartwright, P. A. (2022). Working together: Implications of leadership style for the music ensemble. International Journal of Music Education, 40(4), 613-627.


Music leaders who conduct ensembles in education and community settings, create an ecology of participation depending on their style of leadership. The paradigm of master/apprentice that has long been pilloried in music education academia is still a popular modus operandi for many conductors. Understanding the effect that leadership has on group identity and ensemble cohesion can help participant musicians to continue lifelong engagement with ensemble music making. This exploratory research consists of three phases. First, the relevant literature regarding group work, leadership theories, and musical ensembles was explored. Second, utilizing a purpose-designed questionnaire instrument issued to three musical ensembles. The data was collected and analyzed to determine which leadership factors were considered most important in developing a positive ecology for ensemble members. Data were collected from three musical ensembles, resulting in a convenience sample of n = 73. Some unexpected results emerged from several analytical techniques that explored the cross-tabulation of questionnaire data using Pearson’s kurtosis and skewness coefficients and platykurtic distributions. Finally, this research recommends a more egalitarian ecology in order to maintain a strong interest in ensemble music making for participant musicians.



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