Autoethnography: Exploring Musical Identities 

What do an artists mean when they individualize themselves as a composer, a performer, or an artistic researcher? How does one arrive at identifying themselves through such terms? What expectations, behaviors, activities, or even lifestyles do such identities lead? Are academies celebrating the diverse possible definitions of such terms, or are things much more monochrome? The story of our Lab grew out of these kinds of questions. 

The main idea for Lab 5 at The Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre was to provide participants with practical tools for investigating their own identities as artistic researchers. During the bootcamp participants were taken through an Autoethnographic process. Each day of the Lab was organized around a specific reflective direction.  We provided a variety of pathways for reflectivity which engaged with the Self, the Other, the Moment, and the Society. Individual methods were organized according to these directions. The concept of Identity was the focus for all activities, seeking to answer questions regarding our implicit assumptions about who we are and how has such knowledge been received/communicated.

The five separate days and their respected themes are listed below.

Day 1. Introduction to Autoethnography

Day 2. The Self (Memory Methods)

Day 3. The Other (Interview Methods)

Day 4. The Moment (Real Time Methods)

Day 5. The Society (Approaches in Collaboration) 

Pre-defined goals were not stated explicitly, but instead an environment was provided for researchers to practice and engage through direct experience. Autoethnography was treated in our Lab as a methodology which is best understand through the act of doing. An artist’s learning process involves a great deal of experimenting and trying out new ideas. This experimentation should also be considered when engaging young artists and researchers in the exploration of new methodologies related to Artistic Research, as it is a familiar form of learning to those involved in the arts.