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date: 03 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the musical lives of adults who do not class themselves as musicians. A U.K. research study investigating the learning processes within an ensemble found that many adults who learned to play an instrument in an ensemble not only did not class themselves as musicians, but they actively used nonmusical identities to continue and deepen their engagement in adult music making. The chapter looks at the stories of some of the study’s participants. Musical opportunities in adulthood are considered and the socio-cultural environment of an ensemble is discussed through the lens of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT). The concept of possible selves as a motivator in learning is considered in relation to theoretical perspectives of musical identity. Then, the music lives of different adults are viewed through a framework of being a musician. Finally, ways are considered in which different possible selves and nonmusical identities drive music making.

Keywords: possible selves, Cultural Historical Activity Theory, musical identity, adult music making, ensemble

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