Higher music education and the need to educate the whole musician: Musicians’ work in early-, mid- and late career
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Whilst recent research has begun to expose the early career experiences of graduate musicians, few studies have looked at musicians’ work across the career lifespan. This short article reports from a study that analysed the work of musicians in early, mid and late-career. The study used lifespan perspective theory to understand how musicians select and optimise their opportunities, the strategies they employ to maintain their desired level and type of work, and the impact of career decision making on their musician identities. The findings suggest that when higher music education fails to develop the practice of student musicians — to educate the whole musician — musicians’ financial, emotional and physical well-being are negatively impacted not just in early career but across the career lifespan. Opportunities for changing higher music education programs include engaging students in work integrated-learning (WIL) experiences; recognising and fostering the existing and previous practice of student musicians; and modelling the “protean” musician career as the career norm throughout history rather than as a new phenomenon.
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