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Identity formation through participation in the Rochester New Horizons Band programme

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Results of this qualitative study suggest that membership in the Rochester New Horizons Band programme provides an important vehicle for identity construction and revision in later life. Identities emerge from and are shaped by the social interactions among members in the ensemble setting. Players form new musical identities, reclaim identities that were important in their youth, or revise existing identities by taking up new, social instruments. These musical identities are distinguished not merely by the acquisition of musical skills, but also by the adoption of roles as valuable contributors to a larger musical ensemble. The approval and encouragement of significant others appears to confirm and reinforce musical identity, regardless of whether those others are themselves musicians. Members also use social interaction to negotiate identities as healthy, productive older people. Communal engagement provides structure for time and a new sense of purpose, and it contributes to physical, mental and spiritual health.
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Keywords: New Horizons; identity formation; musical identity; older adults; social interaction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: James Madison University.

Publication date: 2008-05-01

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