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Not playing any more: A qualitative investigation of why amateur musicians cease or continue membership of performing ensembles

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The benefits and pleasures of musical participation are reasonably well known, and yet the number of adults engaging in these activities is only a small proportion of those who learn instruments and participate during their school years. This article reports on three linked studies that investigated the experiences of ‘lapsed’ participants: those who had sought out opportunities for playing in adulthood, before deciding to withdraw for a range of reasons. These reasons are explored through the profiles of the ‘enthusiastic returner’, ‘reluctant retiree’, ‘stressed withdrawer’, ‘tired outsider’ and ‘contented reminiscer’, using qualitative data from participant observation, focus groups, questionnaires and interviews with two amateur ensembles in the North Midlands of England. Implications are considered for lifelong musical engagement, ensemble leadership, and future research into musical participation, identity and learning.
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Keywords: amateur music-making; ceasing playing; commitment; lifelong learning; motivation; musical participation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Sheffield

Publication date: 01 June 2015

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  • The International Journal of Community Music publishes research articles, practical discussions, timely reviews, readers' notes and special issues concerning all aspects of Community Music. The editorial board is composed of leading international scholars and practitioners spanning diverse disciplines that reflect the scope of Community Music practice and theory.
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