Identifying skills for successful classical music careers: Implications for higher education studio teaching leadership

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Graduate preparation for productive classical music careers in an ever-changing global environment requires the identification of skills that have helped mid to late career musicians to flourish. This case study examines the lives of five Australian classical pianists to identify the common threads in successful careers. The semi-structured interviews were analysed for emerging themes, identifying connections between distinct skills developed during education and their role in careers. The participants began learning to play at an early age and during primary years developing their technique, learning numerous works and participating in competitions. In high school, the pianists also played other instruments, studied more demanding piano repertoire and participated in many extracurricular music activities. During performance-focused undergraduate study, all participants focused on improving technique, building solo and collaborative repertoire, including contemporary music, and they branched out into other music-related areas. After postgraduate study overseas and diverse work at the start of their careers, all participants achieved permanent full-time work. Hard work, the ability to learn quickly and a passion for music helped these pianists build successful careers; however, the study confirms that today’s undergraduates also require diverse music and entrepreneurial skills and a positive attitude. The case study confirms the need for change across studio teaching by advocating for greater emphasis on generic music skills as important factors for twenty-first century careers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLeadership of pedagogy and curriculum in higher music education
EditorsJennifer Rowley, Dawn Bennett, Patrick Schmidt
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780429022418
ISBN (Print)9780367077334, 9780367077327
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameISME Global Perspectives in Music Education Series

Cite this