Autonomy and the instrumental music teacher: negotiating culture in professional practice

Journal article

Boyle, Kerry 2020. Autonomy and the instrumental music teacher: negotiating culture in professional practice. Practice. 2 (1), pp. 50-67.
AuthorsBoyle, Kerry

This study provides valuable insights concerning the nature of professional practice in instrumental teachers working in a range of professional contexts in the UK. Using Bourdieu’s conceptual tools of habitus, field and capital, the analysis explores the way in which individuals negotiate the field of instrumental music education, revealing high levels of professional autonomy and specific understandings of the role of the contemporary professional musician. The findings demonstrate the extent to which musicians’ understandings and practices are culturally determined and perpetuated, highlighting the relationship between specific aspects of the field of instrumental teaching and learning and understandings of professional identity. The perception and experience of professional identity revealed in this study suggest a need to revise understandings of the role and identity of the professional musician in the context of contemporary portfolio careers in music. Using an explanatory sequential research design to combine data from a national survey of instrumental teachers with findings from eighteen individual case study interviews and one focus group, the research prioritises the lived experience of participants in generating understanding of professional lives and identities in this context.

KeywordsMusic teachers; Instrumental teachers; Professional practice
Journal citation2 (1), pp. 50-67
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Official URL
Publication dates
Online29 Feb 2020
Print02 Jan 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited26 Oct 2022
Accepted29 Nov 2020
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
Additional information

The data described in this article are openly available in the Open Science Framework at DOI:10.17605/OSF.IO/TPA6U.

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