Investigating Musical Identities of Classical Musicians

M. C Renfrew, Raymond MacDonald, B Duncan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Objectives: Musical identities has been highlighted as an important area of research, signifying the crucial role of music within daily life. However, while previous research has investigated such issues as: jazz identities; adolescents’ musical identities; music teacher identities and opera singer identities there has to date been no research investigating the musical identities of instrumental classical musicians. This study investigates how three classical musicians from the Scottish Symphony Orchestra construct, negotiate and maintain their musical identities.
Design: A qualitative methodology was employed using semi structured interviews.
Methods: Three semi-structured interviews were undertaken, transcribed and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The emergent themes were refined to produce the following recurrent themes: professional musician as a vocation; the importance of classical music and relationships.
Results: This study demonstrates the multidimensional nature of musical identities for the three participants. The analysis highlights how personal and social identities merge and also how aspects of a musician’s life, for example, performing, instrument choice (brass, woodwind, percussion and strings) are crucially involved in constructing identity. In particular the overarching constructs of musical identity is a fundamental aspect of the participants lives.
Conclusions: This study indicates the importance of musical identities to the performing individual and points the way forward to future research regarding classical music and musical identities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventBritish Psychological Society Annual Conference - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 May 20116 May 2011


ConferenceBritish Psychological Society Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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