Music enables the holistic development and discovery of self: A phenomenological study of two Christian musicians

Annabella Fung

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Music draws on body, space, time and relationships to offer a sacred experience. Musicking makes personal, social, emotional and spiritual connections with people. Cultural identity is formed through the arts, and the spirituality in music is a medium through which people explore their identities. This study examines how music facilitates the holistic development of two Melbourne-born Chinese-Australian Christian musicians. The Confucian Evolving Self Model, Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs, and music education aims offer conceptualising scaffolds to illuminate their self-discovery. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to report on multiple semi-structured interviews undertaken over three years. This study considered the interaction of various value systems - the fusion of Confucianism, Christian and psychological cultures in the process of musical development and identity formation. It fills a research gap and complements existing approaches to understanding the social contexts influencing the acquisition of musical skills and musicians' occupational choices. The permissive parenting that both participants experienced might account for them being able to follow a career in music without familial resistance. The current findings can advocate for music education because the spiritual aspects of musical experiences were perceived as a mirror in fostering the holistic development of both participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-416
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • holistic development
  • identity construction
  • IPA
  • musical identity
  • permissive parenting
  • self-concept
  • spirituality in music

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