Alternative pathways to musical mastery: Exploring the lived experiences of two conductors

Annabella Fung

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Learners bring to learning enormously diverse demographics: class, age, culture, religion, personality, prior knowledge, and life world 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 well being 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 well being 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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalThe International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2016


    • Formal and informal education
    • Lifelong learning
    • Master-apprenticeship

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