Journeys of Lifelong Learning in MusicPerspectives on Musicians’ Identity and Professional Performance: a reflective handbook Rineke Smilde

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In this reflective handbook, Rineke Smilde clarifies fundamental concepts of Lifelong Learning in Music through examples of research projects which were explorative and innovative. She identifies several key themes such as reflective practice, artistry, excellence, reciprocity and artistic response. She gives special attention to the notion of the ‘reflexive conservatoire’, which is rooted within the framework of lifelong learning and includes attention to tacit knowing, artistic excellence and the crucial connection to the outside world. In the end, Smilde makes a strong case for all musicians developing an informed social role that reflects their own identity and underpins their professional performance.

Who am I as a musician and how can I contribute to society?

It is the key question in this reflective handbook on Lifelong Learning in Music, in which Rineke Smilde reflects on today’s musicians’ emerging identity and its relationship with their professional performance. For many years she has been leading the research group Lifelong Learning in Music of Prince Claus Conservatoire (Hanze University Groningen), examining questions about the relationship between musicians and society. What for example, does engagement with new audiences mean for the different roles, learning and leadership of musicians? And how could we consider musicians’ learning environments? During the research into their learning processes further questions were raised and possible answers examined.

In this reflective handbook fundamental concepts of Lifelong Learning in Music are clarified and discussed through examples of research projects which were explorative and innovative. A fair amount was learnt. Several key themes are identified such as reflective practice, artistry, excellence, reciprocity and artistic response. In particular, the multilayered roles of biographical learning and improvisation emerge in these examples. Special attention is given to the notion of the ‘reflexive conservatoire’, which is rooted within the framework of lifelong learning and includes attention to tacit knowing, artistic excellence and the crucial connection to the outside world.

In the end, the author makes a strong case for all musicians developing an informed social role that reflects their own identity and underpins their professional performance. There is an emphasis on eliminating the false dichotomy between artistic practices as ‘l’art pour l’art’ or ‘social work’. This can only be achieved through convincing examples of artistic practices in social contexts, which inform musicians’ artistic growth and strengthen their personal and professional development and sense of identity. Here there is no either-or; on the contrary, tradition and innovation are married and strengthen each other by being complementary.

Flautist, musicologist and music educationalist Rineke Smilde is professor of Lifelong Learning in Music at Hanze University in Groningen and former professor of Music Education at the University of Music & Performing Arts in Vienna. Her main areas of research are biographical research in music and qualitative research in learning fields with ‘new audiences and innovative practices’.

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