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Music-making for music teacher identity: perspectives from novice music teachers in South Korea

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2024

Jihae Shin*
Music Education, Graduate School of Education, Ewha Womans University, Seodaemungu, Seoul, South Korea
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Music teacher identity is constructed at the intersection between musician and teacher. This study investigated the meaning of music-making among Korean novice music teachers and its role in constructing music teacher identity. Five music teachers participated in this study, and I used two data collection methods, reflective journaling and individual interviews. The results showed that while playing their instruments outside the classroom, several music teachers understood the importance of music in their lives, which was essential in constructing music teacher identities. In addition, playing outside the classroom allowed these participants to demonstrate their musical abilities to students, parents and other teachers and gain credibility as music teachers. However, other participants did not appear to recognise the importance of the intersection between music-making outside the classroom and teaching, which was an obstacle to music-making. Music-making inside the classroom was an important pedagogical tool to teach low-level students effectively. Importantly, regardless of their level of music-making inside the classroom, novice music teachers commonly viewed professional playing skills with primary and secondary instruments as important for teaching.

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Teacher identity is important for both preservice and in-service music teachers. Identity is closely related to people’s decisions and paths in their lives (Kroger, Reference KROGER2007). In turn, teacher identity significantly affects how teachers understand their learning environments and interact with students (Rha, Reference RHA2016). Furthermore, Brewer (Reference BREWER2009) argued that one’s conceptions of effective music teaching are closely connected to music teacher identity: as music teachers develop their roles through various experiences, they develop, shift and transform their conceptions of effective music teaching. Therefore, how music teachers construct their teacher identities and what those identities consist of require examination.

Music teacher identity is constructed at the intersection between musician and teacher (Ballantyne et al., Reference BALLANTYNE, KERCHNER and AROSTEGUI2012; Bouij, Reference BOUIJ2007; Haston & Russell, Reference HASTON and RUSSELL2012; McClellan, Reference MCCLELLAN2017). Many researchers and educators consider there to be tension in the combined role of musician and teacher (Roberts, Reference ROBERTS2007; Scheib, Reference SCHEIB2006), especially when new music teachers do not feel that schools support musician identity (Scheib, Reference SCHEIB2006). However, other researchers in recent studies have focused on the balance between musician and teacher identities (Bernard, Reference BERNARD2005; Brewer, Reference BREWER2009; Pellegrino, Reference PELLEGRINO2014), indicating the importance of both musical and teaching skills and knowledge in constructing music teacher identity (Bernard, Reference BERNARD2005).

Recently, a few studies have attempted to determine how music-making plays a role in constructing a music teacher identity. For example, Pellegrino (Reference PELLEGRINO2014) investigated the relationship between music-making and teaching of public school music teachers who mainly taught strings. This study found that past music-making allowed music teachers to discover their identity, learn content knowledge and develop technical and musical skills. In addition, music-making outside the classroom helped music teachers feel refreshed and revitalised, making them better able to respond to students’ needs. Music-making inside the classroom created fertile learning environments and was an important learning tool for teaching technique, improvisation and music notation. Pellegrino (Reference PELLEGRINO2015) also conducted research into student teachers’ identities and concluded that music-making is closely related to personal identity, professional identity, wellbeing and teaching. In a study of elementary-level general music teachers, Bernard (Reference BERNARD2004) found that in-service music teachers made connections between how they defined themselves as music teachers and their experiences of making music.

The above studies examined the significance of music-making in music teacher identity in the United States, but a review of the literature shows a lack of studies in different educational settings or cultures. Music curricula in North America primarily provide performance-based programmes, but music classes offered in Asian countries mainly focus on general music. Thus, it is necessary to investigate how Asian music teachers who primarily teach general music consider music-making in their teaching careers and how this practice affects their teacher identities. In addition, teacher identity continues developing after entering their teaching careers (Brewer, Reference BREWER2009), and authentic teaching experience greatly affects the formation of teacher identity (Haston & Russell, Reference HASTON and RUSSELL2012; Shin, Reference SHIN2020). Therefore, it is necessary to investigate how novice music teachers develop their teacher identity after confronting real teaching situations and the role of music-making in constructing their teacher identities.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the meaning of music-making and its role in constructing music teacher identity among novice music teachers in South Korea. Three research questions guided this investigation: (1) How does novice music teachers’ music-making outside the classroom affect the construction of music teacher identity? (2) How does novice music teachers’ music-making inside the classroom affect the construction of music teacher identity? and (3) Why do novice music teachers continue or discontinue participation in music-making activities inside and outside the classroom?

Similar to Pellegrino’s (Reference PELLEGRINO2015) study, music-making is defined here as playing music on music teachers’ primary or secondary instruments. It is important to note that teachers’ music-making is not always an element of music teaching in elementary and secondary music classes in South Korea.

Theoretical background

Music teacher identity is defined as one’s self-conception as a music teacher (Wagoner, Reference WAGONER2015). Dolloff (Reference DOLLOFF2007) argued that teacher identity is answers to the questions: ‘Who am I’? and ‘Who do I want to become’? Identity construction implies that people actively form and establish identities instead of following a predetermined process (McClellan, Reference MCCLELLAN2017). Thus, music teacher identity is not generally regarded as static but rather an ongoing process socially constructed through interactions with peers, colleagues, environments and even cultures (McClellan, Reference MCCLELLAN2017; Stephens, Reference STEPHENS2005).

Music-making and music teaching are two important components in constructing a music teacher identity (Brewer, Reference BREWER2009; McClellan, Reference MCCLELLAN2017; Pellegrino, Reference PELLEGRINO2014). Music-making tends to be equated with musician identity in Western cultures (Hallam, Reference HALLAM, MACDONALD, HARGREAVES and MIELL2017), and music performance ability is considered one of the most important factors affecting music teacher identity in Australia and the United States (Ballantyne, Reference BALLANTYNE2005; Bernard, Reference BERNARD2005). Bernard (Reference BERNARD2005) emphasised that musician identity does not conflict with teacher identity but rather plays an important role in imbuing teachers’ self-conceptions and idealised selves with meaning. In other words, by making music, music teachers could find the personal meaning of music in their lives, which helps them recognise and realise the meaning and essence of a music teaching career (Bernard, Reference BERNARD2005). Furthermore, music-making and teaching affect each other mutually (Dolloff, Reference DOLLOFF2007). Music-making helps music teachers develop musical skills used for effective teaching, while teaching opportunities allow them to use their musical skills regularly inside and outside the classroom (Dust, Reference DUST2006).

Some researchers have categorised types of music teacher identity based on the importance of music-making and music teaching in constructing music teacher identity. For example, Bouij (Reference BOUIJ1998) categorises four role identities among student teachers: all-round musician, performer, pupil-centred teacher and content-centred teacher. In this framework, music teachers with musician identity were described as all-round musicians (broad musical comprehensiveness) and performers (narrow musical comprehensiveness), while music teachers with teacher identity were described as pupil-centred teachers (broad musical comprehensiveness) and content-centred teachers (narrow musical comprehensiveness). Russell (Reference RUSSELL2012) found that preservice music teachers had integrated musician identities (how they perceived themselves as musicians was similar to how they thought that others perceived them as musicians) and segregated teacher identities (how they perceived themselves as teachers differed from how they thought others perceived them as teachers). In contrast, in-service music teachers had integrated teacher identities and segregated musician identities. Ballantyne (Reference BALLANTYNE2005) also theorised three types of music teacher identity: musician, music teacher and teacher. These types were formed based on music teachers’ self-perception of their musical abilities, so if music teachers felt a lack of confidence in performance, they tended to see themselves as teachers. However, if music teachers perceived that they had strong musical abilities, they were more likely to see themselves as musicians.


The research was designed as a phenomenological inquiry. Phenomenology is the study of the ‘meaning, structure, and essence of lived experience of a phenomenon for a person or group of people’ (Patton, Reference PATTON2002, p. 132). This study attempted to deeply investigate Korean novice music teachers’ music-making in terms of meaning, essence and lived experience. A phenomenological inquiry was implemented in this study using (1) various data collection methods (individual interviews and participants’ reflective journaling) to examine the essence of a phenomenon from different angles (Nazir, Reference NAZIR2016), (2) phenomenological data analysis (Hourigan & Edgar, Reference HOURIGAN, EDGAR and CONWAY2014) and (3) a focus on the meaning of music-making.


Participants were recruited using a purposeful sampling strategy (Creswell, Reference CRESWELL2007). Participants were selected based on three criteria. First, they were all novice teachers working as full-time music teachers. In this study, novice music teachers were defined as teachers in the first stage of their careers with less than four years of teaching experience (Steffy et al., Reference STEFFY, WOLFE, PASCH and ENZ2000). Second, participants taught general music classes in either middle or high school music. In Korea, only general music is offered in public school music programmes; classes consist of singing, playing, composing and listening activities. Finally, participants were selected to represent the various primary instruments they majored in as undergraduates to elucidate whether participants’ primary instrument types affected their music-making.

Five music teachers participated in this study. MK majored in vocal performance as an undergraduate, where he won first prize in a school music performance competition; he wanted to keep studying vocal performance but changed his mind and received his teaching certificate from a graduate school. MK works as a high school music teacher, where he was assigned to manage student and teacher choirs and teach general music. Jane works as a high school music teacher; she majored in piano performance at an undergraduate school and received her master’s degree in music education. Jane likes incorporating new teaching skills or methods, so she actively utilises technology including smartphone applications and software to teach music and evaluate students’ progress.

Gina received her performance degree as an undergraduate; her primary instrument was the French horn. She works at an arts high school where she teaches music theory, history and general music. Gina finds value in interacting with students, so she tries to reflect her students’ interests, backgrounds and concerns when determining lesson content and structure. Lee majored in piano performance; she works at a middle school, primarily teaching seventh-grade students. Lee started playing the piano when she was five years old and graduated from an arts middle and high school. As a novice music teacher, Lee thinks that she lacks the ability to teach music classes effectively, so she actively takes professional development workshops and sessions. Han specialised in music composition as an undergraduate. She teaches general music at a middle school and provides students with various music lessons, including music composition, multicultural music and 20th-century music.

Data collection

In a phenomenological study, it is important to use various data collection methods to comprehensively examine the essence of participants’ lived experiences (Nazir, Reference NAZIR2016). The participants’ lived experiences considered were their music-making inside and outside the music classroom. Data were collected using participants’ reflective journaling and individual interviews.

From September 2018 to June 2019, participants were asked to write reflective journal entries once a month and send them to the researcher via email. These reflective journals were used to collect information about participants’ reasons and methods for music-making inside and outside the classroom and how this music-making affected them professionally. Participants received the following reflective journal prompts at the start of the research: (1) What was the proudest moment inside and outside your classroom? (2) What was the most difficult moment inside and outside your classroom? and (3) As a music teacher, what did you try to do to become a more professional teacher?

I also conducted individual interviews at the beginning and end of the study. I conducted the first interviews in June 2018. During the first interviews, I asked participants to describe how they started playing their primary instruments, why they decided to become music teachers, what kinds of music-making they participated in inside and outside the classroom, the moments when they felt a sense of satisfaction in making music and why they continued or had stopped playing. The second interviews aimed to clarify the data from reflective journals, so questions from the second interview depended on the participants’ journal responses. I held the second interviews between May and June 2019. Interviews were semi-structured and lasted 45–70 min.

Data analysis

This study followed the five steps of Hycner’s (Reference HYCNER, BRYMAN and BURGESS1999) explicitation process. Hycner (Reference HYCNER, BRYMAN and BURGESS1999) used ‘explicitation’ rather than ‘analysis’ because the latter:

Usually means a ‘breaking into parts’ and therefore often means a loss of the whole phenomenon…[whereas ‘explicitation’ implies an]…investigation of the constituents of a phenomenon while keeping the context of the whole. (Hycner, Reference HYCNER, BRYMAN and BURGESS1999, p. 161)

First, in the bracketing and phenomenological reduction step, I repeatedly read the data from reflective journals and individual interviews to gain a holistic view of participants’ unique lived experiences (Groenewald, Reference GROENEWALD2004). At this stage, it was especially important to understand the researcher’s ‘prejudices, viewpoints or assumptions regarding the phenomenon under investigation’ (Patton, Reference PATTON2002, p. 485). Therefore, I tried to examine my prior judgements about music teacher identity and the intersection between music-making and teaching by writing my own reflective journal (Van Manen, Reference VAN MANEN1997). In the second step, I delineated units of meaning extracted from the research data and eliminated repetitive data. Units of meaning included ‘focus on primary instruments rather than secondary instruments’, ‘use of music-making as a pedagogical tool’ and ‘feeling of happiness while making music’. Next, I organised the data into meaningful clusters to determine the central themes of participants’ lived experiences (Hourigan & Edgar, Reference HOURIGAN, EDGAR and CONWAY2014). In the fourth step, I summarised all the central themes to understand the research context comprehensively and reflected on the analysis based on my prior judgements recorded in my reflective journal. I especially tried to bracket my prior judgements concerning more focus on music-making inside the classroom than music-making outside the classroom. In addition, I conducted member checking by sending a summary of my analysis to the participants to ensure data gathered reflected the essence and meaning of music-making in their lives (Groenewald, Reference GROENEWALD2004). All participants agreed with the summaries provided. Finally, three key themes for this research were generated: the meaning of music-making inside and outside the classroom, obstacles to music-making and the importance of proficiency in playing various instruments.


Music-making outside the classroom

Two of the five participants actively participated in music-making outside the classroom. The next sections detail their music-making outside the classroom.

The meaning of music-making outside the classroom

Jane and MK actively participated in music-making outside the classroom. Jane practices her piano regularly and plans to participate in a concert in her community with fellow music teachers. MK conducts an amateur choir and sometimes performs in operas. These kinds of musical activities not only imbue their lives with happiness and meaning but also influence their music teacher identity construction. For Jane, the meaning of music-making outside the classroom was closely related to happiness in her life. She described how she felt a lack of satisfaction in her life when she spent less time playing the piano:

I have played piano for a long time, so when I stopped practicing, I felt something missing in my daily life… I know that I can’t play piano very professionally right now, but it, just playing piano itself gives me something, something like happiness. This happiness cannot be replaced by anything else. When I cannot feel this happiness, I might feel bitter… (Jane’s first interview)

Jane also commented that she enjoyed playing the piano more after becoming a music teacher than when she was a performance major in undergraduate school. Her reflective journal illustrates this:

I started to practice Sonata No. 3, 4th movement by Chopin. I slowly practiced the piece and had a feeling of wellbeing… One of the strengths of becoming a music teacher is that I can play my piano anytime without any stress or pressure. When I majored in piano, I felt stressed out about the fact that I needed to play the piano perfectly. As a music teacher, I could enjoy my free time by playing the piano, which is the most important joy in my life. (Jane’s March journal)

Music-making helped Jane acknowledge the importance of her music teaching career. Jane mentioned that by practising her piano, she realised music’s importance to her and her students:

I started practicing four hand piano pieces with my colleagues for music concerts in my community. I was very busy, but I decided to participate in this festival because of the joy that music gives us… While practicing the piano, I was fascinated by the joy I could feel during each performance. While making music, I felt grateful for being a music teacher who enjoys music and who teaches music… Like me, I want my students to enjoy music in my classroom. (Jane’s June reflective journal)

Emotion is one of the most important elements in constructing and reconstructing teacher identities (Dolloff, Reference DOLLOFF2007). Jane’s happiness from playing the piano outside the classroom helped her remember how much she loved music and why she became a music teacher. Music-making outside the classroom encouraged Jane to become a music teacher who could help students love and enjoy music like her.

MK also described how music-making outside the classroom helped him determine and reinforce his music teacher identity. MK’s principal frequently asked him to sing a classical song in front of the students whenever they had a school festival or concert, and this performance opportunity enabled MK’s students to listen to his singing and recognise his musical ability:

My principal knows that I majored in voice, so he asks me to perform whenever we have a festival at my school. I sang various music genres including pop, classic, and musical theatre… After each performance, I felt that my students looked up to me; they told me that I am very talented as a performer, too. They tend to define me as a music teacher who performs very well… This experience made me proud of being a music teacher. (MK’s first interview)

Music-making outside the classroom helped MK construct his music teacher identity from his students’ perspective. MK gained credibility as a music teacher because of his performance ability. Thus, he was recognised as a teacher with musical expertise.

Obstacles to music-making outside the classroom

When asked whether they participate in making music outside the classroom, three participants mentioned that they could hardly continue playing their instruments by themselves or in groups. Lee, Han and Gina commonly explained that their busy schedules as beginning music teachers made it impossible to find the time to make music. For example, Gina noted that her duties as a music teacher created a busy schedule:

I have a lot of work to do. I need to help students prepare college auditions and music competitions, make plans for regular school concerts, arrange master classes, and so on. We have a lot of music festivals and events in our schools. Meanwhile, I need to take care of my students as a homeroom teacher and deal with academic affairs… I want to play my instrument and do other kinds of performance activities but I don’t have any energy left to make music outside the classroom. (Gina’s first interview)

Similarly, Lee mentioned that her hectic schedule as a novice music teacher prevented her from taking her mind off school work and enjoying playing her piano:

During the semester, I was too busy to consider playing my piano. I need to prepare my music classes and take care of other duties… Right now, I am struggling to adjust myself to a new environment as a new music teacher, so my primary goal as a music teacher is to become more comfortable in my teaching career. (Lee’s first interview)

By analysing participants’ interviews, I found that not only their busy schedule but also their tendency to separate music-making outside the classroom and teaching was their primary reason for not playing their instruments outside the classroom; in other words, novice music teachers could not recognise that music-making outside the classroom would benefit their teaching ability. Han clearly explained this issue in her first interview when she described her most memorable music performance before becoming a music teacher. She emphasised that this performance had been her last opportunity to play on a stage:

Han: The most memorable performance was my graduate recital. This was the last opportunity for me to compose music pieces and play a piano.

The researcher: You can still play instruments now, right?

Han: I don’t know. I can’t, and I don’t think I need to. I do not have time to play and no longer consider music-making important to me in my life as a music teacher. (Han’s first interview)

Lee also spoke about her graduation recital and revealed her thoughts about the separation between music-making and teaching:

After deciding to become a music teacher, I thought that my graduate recital would be my last performance, so I practiced really hard and put my energy into the performance… I don’t think I need this performance opportunity anymore because I became a music teacher. (Lee’s first interview)

Interestingly, Lee’s attitude towards music-making outside the classroom changed as time passed:

Two days ago, one student came to me and asked to play interesting piano songs. At that time, I could not remember any music, so I could not play the piano… I realised that I did not know any songs that could pique students’ interests in piano and music. I needed to practice and play the piano outside the classroom, which would also be helpful for my teaching. (Lee’s March reflective journal)

Later, during her second interview, Lee clarified what she thought about the intersection between music-making and teaching:

Right. At the start of my teaching career, I didn’t think about the importance of music-making outside the classroom. I thought that music teachers only need to have good teaching skills and content knowledge, so after deciding to become a music teacher, I stopped playing the piano outside the classroom. However, while teaching students, I sometimes needed to play in front of students. Also, many students cannot afford to buy concert tickets, so I want my students to hear me playing several classical pieces instead. To play in front of students, I need to practice the piano outside the classroom. That’s why my thinking about music-making outside the classroom has changed. (Lee’s second interview)

Three of the five participants tended not to make efforts to make music outside the classroom; their busy schedule was one of the main reasons preventing them from playing their own instruments. Interestingly, these teachers seemed unaware of the benefits of music-making outside the classroom for teaching. Novice music teachers showed their attitude of devaluing music-making outside the classroom for their teaching careers during the initial stages. They perceived music-making outside the classroom as separate from becoming a professional music teacher. However, as shown in the second interview, their attitudes changed as they gained teaching experience. The more teaching experience novice music teachers accumulate, the more they realise the importance of their performance ability for becoming effective music teachers.

Music-making inside the classroom

Three of the five participants played various instruments inside the classroom, while two only played their main instrument for students. This section discusses the meaning of music-making inside the classroom and the lack of confidence in playing various instruments at the end.

The meaning of music-making inside the classroom

All participants felt that their music-making inside the classroom helped students become more interested in music classes. When asked to describe music-making inside the classroom, Han spoke about her piano accompaniment for music classes:

I always play the piano as an accompaniment when students sing songs or play instruments. I am not an observer; I actively play music with students. My students really love my piano accompaniment, especially when I use various chord progressions. They seem to think that this piano accompaniment makes their playing more interesting. They get very excited about this kind of playing time. (Han’s first interview)

Similarly, Jane commented that her music-making inside the classroom made her teaching more enjoyable. Interestingly, in addition to playing ukulele with students inside the classroom, Jane recorded her playing and uploaded videos of it on YouTube to help her students practice ukulele:

During October, I taught students how to play ukulele… To help all my students achieve class objectives, I make a lot of effort, such as making various learning materials and videos… I know that students frequently watch videos on YouTube to learn basic ukulele techniques, so I decided to record my own videos and upload them there. I recorded my performance in front of students during music classes and got feedback from students about my videos. My students were very excited about my videos; they were fascinated by the fact that their music teacher plays ukulele on YouTube. (laugh) This process helps more students engaged in music classes. (Jane’s October journal)

In addition to students’ interests in music, music-making inside the classroom was a tool to teach diverse learners. Several music teachers emphasised using music-making to help students who have difficulty singing or playing music. For example, MK said that he actively used music-making to teach underachieving students in his music classes:

I have many students who can’t play a recorder. I want all students to play a recorder well, so I try to use various pedagogy methods. Among them, one strategy is to use my music-making, especially when teaching low-level students. I play with them, show them what is wrong with my instrument and demonstrate how to practice using my recorder. This method is a very effective way to guide students to achieve class objectives. (MK’s second interview)

For MK, music-making inside the classroom was an important pedagogical tool to teach low-level students. Students can more easily understand what to do when it is modelled without complicated explanations. Modelling is an important teaching tool because it allows students to actively hear, observe and imitate sounds before they learn written notes, signs and theory (Dickey, Reference DICKEY1992). Participants seemed to understand the importance of music-making for modelling. Thus, they primarily used music-making as a pedagogical tool, especially for students in need of additional explanation and practice.

Lack of confidence in playing various instruments beyond their major instruments

Han and Lee mentioned that they only play their major instrument (piano) inside the classroom. Their lack of confidence in playing other instruments was a primary reason for only playing the piano:

Singing… I do not demonstrate singing in music classrooms, especially when we sing songs in the high register…At the beginning of this semester, I tried to sing when I introduced a difficult song. One day, a student came to me and said that I am not good at singing (laugh). I understand that he made a joke but I think that they know I am not good at singing and I can’t sing very professionally. (Han’s first interview)

Lee also thought back on the first year of her teaching career and spoke about her low level of music-making inside the classroom:

The level of music-making inside the classroom depends on what I teach. I am not confident at singing, so I think that it is better to show video examples where professional musicians sing than my singing demonstration. However, when we learn instruments, I actively play my piano so that students can listen to tunes first. (Lee’s second interview)

Han and Lee both majored in piano, so they are used to teaching instruments rather than singing. Because they are relatively less skilled at singing, they only focus on playing their major instrument and sometimes show a lack of confidence as music teachers.

Gina, MK and Jane have been trying to play various instruments to increase the effectiveness of their teaching. For example, MK mentioned that he not only sang songs but also played various instruments, including Western and traditional Korean instruments, even though his major instrument is his voice:

Music-making is very important in my classes… I am not good at playing traditional Korean instruments, but I try to. I play a recorder, Danso [Korean traditional woodwind], and Jangu [Korean traditional percussion]. While preparing my music classes, I spent a lot of time practicing these instruments. (MK’s first interview)

Similar to MK, Jane felt that she lacked professional skills in various instruments, even though she tried to play various instruments in her classes. As a result, she plans to develop her playing skills:

If I evaluate my whole year as a music teacher, I think that I lack professional playing skills… I think I should have covered various instruments more with professional playing skills. I should have demonstrated these instruments professionally, but I couldn’t. I think that I need to participate in professional development workshops or seminars to develop these playing skills. (Jane’s second interview)

Among the five participants, two focused on music-making only with their major instrument, while the other three played various instruments. Importantly, regardless of their level of music-making inside the classroom, all participants commonly felt the importance of professional playing skills for teaching. Especially because they teach general music, they need to introduce various songs and instruments, including Western and Korean instruments, which requires musical abilities in diverse instruments. These teachers seemed to recognise that musical efficacy is closely associated with teacher efficacy (Ballantyne, Reference BALLANTYNE2005). They desired to increase their musical skills in secondary instruments to grow as professional music teachers.

Discussion and conclusion

Musicianship plays an important role in developing a music teacher identity. Many researchers considered that music-making and teaching should be balanced (Bernard, Reference BERNARD2005; Brewer, Reference BREWER2009; Pellegrino, Reference PELLEGRINO2014), and musician identity is helpful for teachers to feel satisfied with their teaching careers (Bernard, Reference BERNARD2004). Therefore, this study sought to investigate how music-making plays a role in constructing novice music teacher identity.

Music-making outside the classroom helped several novice music teachers find the meaning of music teaching career through a personal understanding of their careers and social interactions with others. First, playing their instruments individually or in groups revived the passion that initially attracted participants to music. Through this experience, they realised the importance of their careers, which could help their students enjoy music participants’ value. Dolloff (Reference DOLLOFF2007) argues that ‘our own emotional engagement to music is an important component in who we are as music teachers’ (p. 12). Making music outside the classroom evokes emotion, feeling and passion through music, an essential component for participants in constructing music teacher identities. In addition, playing outside the classroom allowed music teachers to demonstrate their musical abilities to students, parents and other teachers and gain credibility as music teachers. Brewer (Reference BREWER2009) claims that occupational identity is constructed, while people interact with other people, contexts and cultures. Through music-making outside the classroom, participants demonstrated that they are not just teachers but music teachers with good musicianship, which members of their school community recognised. This musical efficacy made them more effective teachers and built their confidence as beginning music teachers.

However, other participants tended to undervalue music-making outside the classroom. Three participants could not understand the connection between music-making outside the classroom and teaching. Their busy schedules made them consider music-making outside the classroom unnecessary for them to survive as novice music teachers, develop appropriate expertise in teaching music and construct teacher identities. However, their attitudes changed as they gained more teaching experience. Therefore, we need to consider how to help novice music teachers continue to make music outside the classroom and understand the value of music-making early in their teaching careers. Reflecting on the meaning of music-making is one way to help novice music teachers connect music-making and teacher identity (Bernard, Reference BERNARD2005; Pellegrino, Reference PELLEGRINO2015). Professional development workshops and mentoring for beginning music teachers need to provide time and space to reflect on what music-making outside the classroom brings them and why they need to engage in music-making activities regularly. In addition, school districts need to understand music teacher identity as a balance between musician and teacher identities. When new music teachers view schools as unsupportive of musician identities, they tend to feel a tension between their musician and teacher identities (Scheib, Reference SCHEIB2006). However, ‘learning to teach is learning how to use who you are effectively and ethically—all parts, musical, artistic, sports-minded, and so on’ (Dolloff, Reference DOLLOFF2007, p. 17). Novice music teachers would benefit from content-specific professional development workshops that foster their musician identities by meeting and playing with other musicians and teachers. Such workshops would ultimately help music teachers define who they are and what they do and integrate their personal (who they were in the past) and professional (who they want to become) identities.

Results on the meaning of music-making inside the classroom reflected those of previous studies (Pellegrino, Reference PELLEGRINO2014, Reference PELLEGRINO2015). Participants used music-making inside the classroom to attract students’ interest in music classes (Pellegrino, Reference PELLEGRINO2014) and to teach music more effectively (Pellegrino, Reference PELLEGRINO2015). This finding confirmed that music-making inside the classroom helped music teachers ‘become more whole, awake, and compassionate to teach’ (Pellegrino, Reference PELLEGRINO2015, p. 142) by using music-making as a pedagogical tool to make music classes more fun and enjoyable. This study’s findings differed from previous studies regarding participants’ focus on the use of music-making to teach low-level students effectively. This focus is explained by the fact that participants taught general music, which requires cultivating an inclusive learning environment that students of various skill levels can enjoy. Another explanation is that as novice music teachers, participants may be more inclined to help all students succeed in music classes, and music-making was an important teaching method that enabled them to approach a professional identity of who they want to become.

Participants in this study revealed they lacked the ability to play various instruments. In Korea, elementary, middle and high schools provide general music classes, and music teachers need to teach all areas of music, including singing, playing, listening and composing. Therefore, regardless of their major instruments, these teachers need to have diverse singing and playing skills with Western and Korean instruments. As general music teachers, participants were required to play more diverse instruments than music teachers in band, orchestra or choir. Thus, they focused on developing musical skills in secondary instruments to become more professional music teachers. Previous studies have investigated the intersection between music-making and teaching (Ballantyne et al., Reference BALLANTYNE, KERCHNER and AROSTEGUI2012; Bernard, Reference BERNARD2005; Bouij, Reference BOUIJ2007; Brewer, Reference BREWER2009; Haston & Russell, Reference HASTON and RUSSELL2012; McClellan, Reference MCCLELLAN2017; Pellegrino, Reference PELLEGRINO2014, Reference PELLEGRINO2015); however, these studies did not distinguish music-making with primary instruments from music-making with secondary instruments. Although musician identity is important to construct a music teacher identity (Ballantyne, Reference BALLANTYNE2005; Bernard, Reference BERNARD2005), the difference between music-making in primary and secondary instruments in constructing a music teacher identity requires further exploration.

Jihae Shin is an associate professor in a graduate school of education at Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea, where she teaches music education courses. She earned her master’s degree at the Ohio State University and doctoral degree at Teachers College, Columbia University, USA. Her research interests focus on teacher education, professional development, teacher collaboration, and music teaching and learning.


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