No fuss, all forgiveness: Finding musical identity in a community orchestra

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    The benefits of participation in a community music group are well documented. Music has a positive impact on the quality of life of older people and the communities in which they live. This study considers the impact of participating in a community orchestra as either a ‘returning’ player or as a beginner at an older age. The participants are all members of Squawkestra, a self-named community orchestra for people who are beginning to learn an instrument or returning to play an instrument learnt when younger. All interviewees were over the age of 50 and either retired or soon to be so. Various themes arose from this research, with the development of musical identity being a driving part of the narratives collected. Participants felt that playing in the orchestra allowed their musical identity to be enacted in ways that had not been possible previously. The orchestra provides an avenue for people to re-shape their image and identity as a ‘musician’. For some, the idea of acceptance as a member of a musical community was important for their identity. For others the orchestra was part of planning for life transition as they moved into retirement. The players in the Squawkestra have aspirations of musical growth but only if that is framed in a welcoming, forgiving and enjoyable musical environment. Players found the ‘buzz’ of performing rewarding but recognised that this was more about shared music making than with impressing an audience. For all participants Squawkestra was a meaningful part of life with positive benefits and outcomes. For community music facilitators it is important to recognise that people join community music groups for varied, sometimes complex reasons and activities and programs should be modified to accommodate.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016
    EventXV Community Music Activity (CMA) Pre Conference Seminar, ISME, Edinburgh, Scotland - Edinburgh Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    Duration: 19 Jul 201623 Jul 2016


    ConferenceXV Community Music Activity (CMA) Pre Conference Seminar, ISME, Edinburgh, Scotland
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • musical identity
    • community music
    • lifelong learning

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