Theses Doctoral

Perceptions of Success Among Music Professionals

Coles, Drew Xavier

The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the subjective and objective career success perceptions of music school graduates who now identify as professional musicians. This study approached that purpose in four ways. First, the study examined how musicians conceptualized success compared to the literature. Second, the study investigated how musicians conceptualize how success is shown in themselves relative to how it appears in others. Third, the study examined if and how musicians attribute the success that they have achieved in their careers to the institutional preparation they received at academic institutions. Fourth, the study investigated the possibility that geography may play a role in sculpting the perceptual values and qualifiers of success in musicians.
This study was informed by the literature surrounding the area of careers, career success, career development as it pertains to musicians, and career success as it pertains to musicians. A survey was the research tool utilized for this descriptive study, and the survey was constructed and facilitated via Qualtrics Software. The survey included 26 Likert-type questions and seven open-ended questions. The sample population used for this study was 326 participants from the New York City Chapter of the American Federation of Musicians Union. The data that was collected from the survey was organized, analyzed, and synthesized to discover emerging themes and answers to the guiding research questions.
The findings of this study suggest that musicians understand and value the points of the comparison that those outside of the field of music may use to value and evaluate their own careers. The findings of this study also suggest that musicians may perceive some of the underlying components that make up career success differently in themselves that they do in others. Further, support is provided in this dissertation for the understanding that objective career success and subjective career success are linked in a way that is underrepresented in the literature, and thus is underrepresented in the discussion of the two concepts.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Parkes, Kelly A.
Abeles, Harold F.
Ed.D.C.T., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
August 27, 2019