This study investigates ways in which music teachers make personal sense of their professional selves and their perceptions of their places within the broader landscape of music education relative to other types of music teachers in school and community settings. A social phenomenological framework based on the writing of Alfred Schutz was used to examine how participants constructed a sense of self in their social worlds and how they both shaped and were shaped by their social worlds. Eight music teachers participated in this study and represented differing types of music teaching careers, including: public school general music teaching and ensemble directing; independent studio teaching and teaching artistry; studio lessons, classes, and ensembles at community music centers; church ensemble directing; and other combinations of music teaching jobs throughout school and community settings. Data were collected from in-depth interviews, observations of the music teachers in their various teaching roles, and artifacts related to their music teaching positions. Research questions included: Who do the participants conceive of themselves to be as music professionals and music teachers; How do they construct and enact their professional selves, including their teaching selves; How is their construction of professional self, including teaching self, supported and sustained by interactions in their social worlds; and, What implications does this have for the music profession as a whole? After developing a professional portrait of each participant, analysis revealed an overall sense of professional self and various degrees of three role-taking selves: performing, teaching, and musical. Analysis also considered sense of self in relation to social worlds, including consociates, contemporaries, predecessors, and successors, and the extent to which performing, teaching, and musical selves were balanced, harmonized, or reconciled for each participant. Social worlds proved influential in terms of participants' support for sense of self. Participants who enacted the most harmonized, reconciled senses of self appeared to have a professional self that was grounded in a strong sense of musical self, enabling them to think and act flexibly. Participants whose professional selves were dominated by a strong sense of teaching or performing self seemed confined by the structures of their social world particular to teaching or performing, lacked a sense of musical self, and were less able to think and act flexibly. Findings suggest that active construction of consociate relationships throughout varied social worlds can support a balanced, reconciled conception of self, which informs teaching practice and furthers the ability to act in entrepreneurial ways.
- A social phenomenological investigation of music teachers' senses of self, place, and practice