Research Studies in Music Education
School of Education
Music can be a powerful activity and resource in a child’s ongoing identity construction. Rather than something that people have, musical identities are understood to be something people enact and continually work on. The correlation between musical identities and developing music skills raises serious questions regarding the possibilities and responsibilities for school music education and music teachers to positively contribute to children’s emerging identities. This study investigates how daily singing-based music classes at an Australian boys’ school shape and support children’s identity work. Research was conducted using one-on-one semistructured interviews incorporating a “draw and tell” artifact elicitation technique with seven students in Year 3. All students were engaged in their fourth year of Kodály-inspired music education as part of the school curriculum. Findings indicate that singing, singing games, playing the recorder, writing activities, musician models, and thinking musically positively contributed to boys’ identity work. These daily school music practices provided a resource for their identity work; fostered a high value for learning in, about, and through music; developed musical proficiency; ignited interest in learning musical instruments; and facilitated the entanglement of children’s musical worlds. Boys’ future identity work was supported by assisting the construction of musical possible selves and encouraging the continuation of music learning. This case study exemplifies music as a process and resource for children’s ongoing identity construction, the contributions of school music education to identity development, and the potential of singing-based music education to positively shape and support children’s musical identity work.
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