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Title: An exploratory investigation of the everyday musical experiences of adults and adolescents who have a visual impairment
Author: Castle, Claire Louise
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores the musical lives of adults and adolescents who have a visual impairment. It considers the various facets of their musical engagement including the functions fulfilled by music, beliefs regarding the importance of music in their lives, recorded listening experiences and the use of technology, and motivations and functions relating to live music event attendance. This thesis is the first to explore the wide-ranging experiences which make up the everyday musical lives of both musicians and non-musicians who have a visual impairment. The thesis offers a systematic investigation of this topic using mixed-methods and offers alternative perspectives to research which has focused on associations between visual impairment and heightened musical ability, or the musical experiences of children with visual impairments. This thesis also considers the potential challenges and barriers experienced by individuals who have a visual impairment in relation to musical engagement. Three studies were undertaken. Qualitative data was gathered during focus groups, which informed the design of a series of semi-structured interviews. Interpretative phenomenological analysis provided the theoretical and analytical grounding for these interviews, allowing detailed exploration of the individuals' experiences. In turn, these interviews informed the design of a survey, which collected predominantly quantitative data. Questions were designed to explore salient topics identified in the previous studies, across a larger sample. Results highlight the central role that music played in the lives of many participants, with some suggesting an association between having a visual impairment and the importance of music. This was reflected in the range of functions fulfilled by music, some of which appeared to be unique to the needs of this group. For many, technology had impacted positively on musical engagement, however, results also demonstrated potential barriers to technological engagement for music listening. Similarly, participants enjoyed a range of music-making activities and engagement with live events, but challenges were also identified in relation to these experiences. Findings have important implications for the accessibility of music to individuals who have a visual impairment, for whom low vision, or changes to their vision, may negatively impact on their musical engagement. Furthermore, insight into the experiences of attendees who have a visual impairment at musical events offers a valuable contribution to the discourse surrounding the challenge of attracting and engaging members of underrepresented groups within arts audiences. Ultimately, this thesis provides a comprehensive exploration of the musical lives of adults and adolescents who have a visual impairment and identifies how access to music and musical experiences might be improved.
Supervisor: Greasley, Alinka ; Burland Clark, Karen Sponsor: University of Leeds
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available