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Toward a nuanced understanding of musicians’ professional learning pathways: What does critical reflection contribute?

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López-Íñiguez, Guadalupe  ORCID logo
Burnard, Pamela 


jats:p Making sense of musicians’ professional learning pathways is of crucial importance to understanding their career progressions, their routes into creative employment, and the relevance of various policies to their professional lives. However, this is a far cry from understanding how critical reflection catalyzes diverse learning routes, especially when considering evidence originating from postgraduate musicians’ own accounts of their journeys into job creation. In this study, we invited five postgraduate classical musicians who were invested in professional learning through performance programs in higher education to contribute these types of personal perspectives. The article explores the value of postgraduate musicians’ own accounts of their journeys and illustrates how a more nuanced understanding of them can be arrived at through the use of visual-based tools, for example, Rivers of Musical Experience and Dixit Cards. This constructivist intervention prompted both group and individual critical reflections, as well as sense-making processes that enabled the participants to become more informed about the (typically overlooked or neglected) critical incidents that differently catalyze professional learning pathways. All of the participants articulated sociocultural influences that were situated along historical, present, and future points of departure and arrival, helping them to create meaning and understanding of themselves and their (at times unsettling) professional learning pathways. From the ensuing thematic analyses, we identified a commonality of themes across life phases with three key influential groups of people (parents, peers, and professionals) that strongly affected their professional learning pathways and learner identity-construction. The results indicate that the relationships between these phases and people are complex. The research illuminates the previously unexplored connection between the meaning-making trajectories that are instantiated through critical reflection, and adds to our understanding of the development of musicians’ professional learning pathways and learner identities. </jats:p>


Funder: Center for Educational Research and Academic Development in the Arts (CERADA)


3901 Curriculum and Pedagogy, 39 Education, 36 Creative Arts and Writing, 4 Quality Education

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Research Studies in Music Education

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SAGE Publications
Academy of Finland (315378)