Confucian Heritage Culture, parental differential treatment of siblings and music learning: a hermeneutic analysis of a musical family

Annabella S.K. Fung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This phenomenological study focuses on the effect of parenting rooted in Confucian Heritage Culture (CHC) on music learning of four American-born Chinese siblings from the same family. It investigates parental differential treatment (PDT) and sibling interactions on the musical development of the participants raised by musician parents. Participants’ music practice habits and their learning and performing opportunities can further account for their music identity formation. Hermeneutic inquiries explore how individuals make sense of their experiences. Data consisted of six semi-structured interviews conducted among this family and their email correspondences, and was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Four overarching themes emerged from the family narratives: parenting rooted in CHC-inspired music learning in this family; parental musicianship and continuous support, combined with kin role modelling and siblings’ sound practice habit positively facilitated their successful music learning; optimal learning and performing opportunities were highly beneficial in the siblings’ music learning process; and sibling relationships affected by PDT did not have long-term aversive effects on their learning or wellbeing. The findings show that PDT occurs among CHC families and children need to have a safe environment to thrive. Scholars and health practitioners should acquire intercultural knowledge to effectively work with families of diverse cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-374
Number of pages18
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Confucian Heritage Culture
  • Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
  • moral cultivation and self-perfection
  • music education aims
  • music learning
  • parental differential treatment
  • sibling interaction

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