Utopia for music performance graduates. Is it achievable, and how should it be defined?

Dawn Bennett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


For the majority of undergraduate classical music performance students, ‘musotopia’ is a place where performance ambitions are realised with an international performance career. However, given that so few musicians achieve this ambition, should this ideal be redefined? This paper investigates instrumental musicians’ careers by exploring the realities of professional practice. A detailed study which incorporated interviews, focus groups and a lengthy survey, revealed the multiplicity of roles in which most musicians engage in order to sustain their careers. The findings call into question the concept of a musician as a performer, positing that a musician is rather someone who practises within the profession of music in one or more specialist fields. The diversity of roles pursued by practising musicians is not reflected in the majority of conservatorium curricula, thus the enormous potential for the transfer of music graduate skills into the broad cultural industries setting remains largely unrealised. Acceptance of, and preparation for, a more holistic career will enable many more graduates to find their own musotopia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-189
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Music Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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