Professional identities in progress – developing personal artistic trajectories (2019)

Tanja Orning

About this exposition

We have seen drastic changes in the music profession during the last 20 years, and consequently an increase of new professional opportunities, roles and identities. We can see elements of a collective identity in classically trained musicians who from childhood have been introduced to centuries old, institutionalized traditions around the performers’ role and the work-concept. Respect for the composer and his work can lead to a fear of failure and a perfectionist value system that permeates the classical music. We have to question whether music education has become a ready-made prototype of certain trajectories, with a predictable outcome represented by more or less generic types of musicians who interchangeably are able play the same, limited canonized repertoire, in more or less the same way. Where is the resistance and obstacles, the detours and the unique and fearless individual choices? It is a paradox that within the traditional master-student model, the student is told how to think, play and relate to established truths, while a sustainable musical career is based upon questioning the very same things. A fundamental principle of an independent musical career is to develop a capacity for critical reflection and a healthy opposition towards uncontested truths. However, the unison demands for modernization of institutions and their role cannot be solved with a quick fix, we must look at who we are and who we have been to look at who we can become. Central here is the question of how the music students perceive their own identity and role. To make the leap from a traditional instrumentalist role to an artist /curator role requires commitment in an entirely different way. In this article, I will examine question of identity - how identity may be constituted through musical and educational experiences. The article will discuss why identity work is a key area in the development of a sustainable music career and it will investigate how we can approach this and suggest some possible ways in this work. We shall see how identity work can be about unfolding possible future selves (Marcus & Nurius, 1986), develop and evolve one’s own personal journey and narrative. Central is how identity develops linguistically by seeing other possibilities: "identity is formed out of the discourses - in the broadest sense - that are available to us ..." (Ruud, 2013). The question is: How can higher music education (HME) facilitate students in their identity work in the process of constructing their professional identities? I draw on my own experience as a classically educated musician in the discussion.
typeresearch exposition
last modified06/11/2019
share statusprivate
copyrightTanja Orning
licenseAll rights reserved
published inNorwegian Academy of Music
portal issue3. Unfolding the process

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