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Ambassadors of Multiplicities: Young String Players in the Contemporary Classical Music Collective Called “Face the Music”

Weatherly, Ieong Cheng Katy

This study explores the experiences of young string players in a music collective called Face the Music. The organization consists of musicians aged 10 to 18, and is dedicated to the preparation and performance of music by living classical composers. I begin with the assertion that contemporary classical music, hereinafter referred to as contemporary music, is often misinterpreted and underappreciated by the general public, and even musicians themselves. There is minimal research exploring what contemporary classical music education is or could be, especially regarding non-professional musicians and/or adolescents. From this starting point, I explore the experiences of 18 members, six coaches, and one parent. Data includes focus group interviews with young string players in quartet settings, individual interviews with coaches, field notes, and a variety of musical artifacts. Face the Music musicians were highly flexible and versatile musicians; they identified as performers, composers, and improvisers—and possibly rebels of some kind. In addition to these subjectivities, their most prominent characteristic was revealed in their “polytonal roles,” a concept I explicate. Findings suggest complex relationships between their emotions and contemporary music. Several disparate benefits, especially social benefits, were manifested through the idea of community. Coaches at Face the Music perceived their roles as pushing the boundaries of traditional classical music training and promoting living composers. The unsureness and uncertainty from the young string players also reflect the ambiguous nature of contemporary music. Findings suggest that there is a space for music educators to re-conceptualize contemporary classical music education for young musicians.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Allsup, Randall E.
Goffi-Fynn, Jeanne Corinne
Degree
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
August 27, 2019