Musical disembodiment: a phenomenological case study investigating the experiences of operatic career disruption due to physical incapacity

Jane Oakland, Raymond MacDonald, Paul Flowers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of musical career disruption are an increasingly important, yet under-researched, area within music education. This article highlights psychological issues that can negatively affect an operatic career. Existing work has examined the effects of redundancy for opera choristers and confirmed the importance of a flexible approach to identity formation for career longevity. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), this study investigates the effects of career disruption by focussing on the consequences of physical disabilities for one professional opera singer called Joe. Music and musical narratives are utilized as key elements to investigate various aspects of Joe's music identity. Internal conflicts that can result from a perceived lack of autonomy over musical issues and the effects of bodily malfunction on a vocal identity are discussed as being crucial. Findings also highlight the importance for music educators to help young artists develop a balanced relationship with music and a sustainable identity within music.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-55
Number of pages17
JournalResearch Studies in Music Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014


  • career transition
  • identity
  • illness
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • opera singers

Cite this