Becoming a musician : a longitudinal study investigating the career transitions of undergraduate music students
This thesis examines the nature of the transition between training as an undergraduate musician and choosing whether or not to pursue a career as a professional performer. Previous studies of musical development have focused on children's skill acquisition, but few have considered the roles of motivation, practice, and the social environment in the transition into the music profession. Musicians making early career choices are also progressing through one of the most critical life-span changes - from adolescence to young adulthood - and little is known about how the psychological changes occurring during this time influence a musician's development. A two-year longitudinal study was conducted with a group of 32 musicians who, at the beginning of the study, were undergraduate music students attending either a British music college or university. Eight interviews were conducted with each of the participants. These were primarily qualitative in design, being either structured or semi structured and the data were analysed using qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques. The findings indicate that distinct characteristics defined the musicians who chose to pursue a professional performance career which differed from those for whom music became an amateur interest. The results suggest that the four factors of motivation, musical identity, learning styles and coping strategies interact and influence the career choices of the musicians. It is suggested that an individual's musical identity and his/her coping strategies play an integral role in the process of becoming a professional or amateur musician. A Dynamic Model of Musical Identity Formation and Career Choice is proposed in order to depict and explain the complex process of becoming a professional or amateur musician in adulthood.