Alternative Pathways to Musical Mastery: Exploring the Lived Experiences of Two Conductors

By Annabella Fung.

Published by The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: October 13, 2016 $US5.00

Learners bring to learning enormously diverse demographics: class, age, culture, religion, personality, prior knowledge, and lifeworld experiences. While it is common for musicians to begin learning music in childhood and continue with formal tertiary music education, there are alternative pathways to musical mastery. Using an interpretative phenomenological analysis, this study explores the master-apprenticeship model and Confucian constant betterment in the musical development of two Hong Kong conductors who were late-starters in music learning. Specifically, it investigates the relationship between lifelong learning, musical success, identity change, and wellbeing in middle and later life. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken to seek participants’ understandings of their learning experiences and factors that enabled their success. The findings challenged the view that musical foundation is laid in childhood and that development is a linear process. Early false starts and missed learning opportunities were not detrimental; their desire for constant betterment and one-to-one mentoring received led to rewarding musical careers, which contributed to their wellbeing and positive ageing. Educators have moral responsibilities to address issues of equity and inclusiveness and to create opportunities for the potentially able but disadvantaged students to participate in all forms of learning, including non-formal and informal education outside the institutional context.

Keywords: Master-apprenticeship, Formal and Informal Education, Lifelong Learning

The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities, Volume 24, Issue 1, March 2017, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: October 13, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 507.267KB)).

Annabella Fung

PhD Researcher, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia