Theses Doctoral

Restoring the Malleable Inner Self: A Journey of Lifelong Transformation and Growth Through Musical Performance

Han, Jungmin Grace

Classical music performance has long been perceived as the domain of people with talent. This pervasive way of thinking can inhibit individuals from reaching their true musical potential. I argue that this problem has to do with the habitual performing and teaching practices based upon the body-mind dualism, which ignores intrinsically connected qualities of the performing body and mind. In this project, I aimed to understand the intrinsic malleable capacity, or my terms, the malleable inner self, as the intrinsic measurement for lifelong learning and growth in the context of musical performance and its pedagogy. Through autoethnographic narrative inquiry with the life story interview method as a methodological lens, I used the Korean cellist Ms. Lim’s 30- year transformative journey as an essential testimony. This project arises from a way of knowing I have turned to, the move from practice to theory, which I came to believe opens up a mode of inquiry that offers continuous growth, as did Ms. Lim’s lifelong transformative journey. In my reimagination of Ms. Lim’s narrative—in which I redefine her transformative journey as a musical pilgrimage—the self is the “capacity within.” I cultivated the idea of the entirety of the musical self, underlying a sense of wholeness or a sense of the self as a musical whole, the pinnacle of the restored capacity that comes with the body-mind/self- music unity. In this sense, the malleable inner self or the malleable capacity within is the foundational condition to be restored to experience the entirety of the musical self or a sense of the self as a musical whole.

I further reimagined, from the transformative learning perspective, how this restored self/capacity can reflect understanding of an essential pedagogy, breaking out of the extrinsic measurement-oriented pedagogical structure in the context of musical performance. I conclude that every individual musician at all levels retains an inherent, malleable musical capacity, which can be restored from the unified, liberated mind-body as the ultimate musical entity. With the capacity-building perspective, my study demonstrates that students and teachers can open their own doors for ultimate lifelong transformation and growth by restoring the malleable inner self, turning away from the long-standing perspectives in classical music performance and its pedagogy.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Custodero, Lori
Allsup, Randall Everett
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 1, 2021