Developing learning identities in and through music: a case study of the outcomes of a music programme in an Australian juvenile detention centre

Margaret S. Barrett, Jane S. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The last decades have witnessed significant growth in music programmes targeted at various populations in detention, including those in male and female prisons and juvenile detention centres. The aspirations of such programmes have included a concern to improve detainees' mental and physical health and well-being, develop pro-social behaviours that assist in rehabilitation into the community and diminish the incidence of recidivism. In Australia there is an upward trend in the number of young people in detention. The population is overwhelmingly male, disproportionately indigenous, and largely aged between 15 and 17 years. The Australian Children's Music Foundation (ACMF) has implemented a number of music programmes in juvenile detention centres as a means to assist young people to develop their sense of self-worth, build skills in self-discipline and communication, foster resilience, and re-engage with life and the community. This qualitative case study identifies and documents participants' perceptions of the learning outcomes (musical and extra-musical) that emerge from participation in an ACMF music programme in one Australian juvenile detention centre and the learning and teaching practices and contextual factors that support these outcomes. Findings indicate that the programme generated significant musical and extra-musical learning outcomes for youth participants. Significantly, engagement in the programme provided a context through which participants developed a 'learning identity'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-259
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Music Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • detention
  • informal learning
  • juvenile justice
  • learning identity
  • music learning

Cite this