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Orchestral Musician Research
  • Research exploring key skills and qualities for successful orchestral musicians.

Orchestral Musician Research

This research study aims to yield insights into the experiences of musicians in western classical orchestras: what skills and qualities are key to their success; what characterises the professional identities of orchestral musicians and what challenges do they face?

The research has been initiated within Centre for Orchestra (C4O), a unique collaboration between the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), Guildhall School and the Barbican creating a forum in London for orchestral development in the twenty first century. It is being undertaken by Helena together with Dr. Melissa Dobson. As well as illuminating musical, interpersonal and organisational dimensions of orchestral practices, findings will be used to inform the education and training of the next generations of aspiring orchestral musicians, and to help inform the ongoing development of orchestras in the twenty first century.

The first phase of this study, now complete, consisted of a series of individual interviews with a cross-section of players from the LSO. Two journal articles are in preparation: one covering the importance of musical and social communication (or 'radar') in the orchestral context, another focusing on the orchestra as a community of practice.

The second phase of the study, 2011-13, will extend the research to a larger sample of orchestral musicians from amongst the Barbican's International Associates. The study will therefore provide a significant body of data and valuable insights into some of the cultural differences between the experiences of orchestral musicians in different parts of the world.

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In a nutshell

So why should you be interested in Learning in and through the Performing Arts?

The collaborative processes of the performing arts open a pandora's box of possibilities for artistic, personal and organizational development. They are subtle and multi-layered, embodied practices that can yield much more than what individuals bring to them, creatively and in terms of human exchange. My work is about continuing to develop these processes for the twenty-first century, so that artists can adapt to their changing contexts and enable their work to take root as creative entrepreneurs, and so that the processes of the arts can be shared and enhanced through exchange with other disciplines and across cultural contexts.