Being a Singer: A Sociological Analysis of the Role Identity of University Voice Majors

Brian A. Roberts


Singers both rejoice and suffer under the weight of their instrument. It becomes not only a major part of their identity but, in many cases, it becomes their central or "master status" (Hughes, 1945). This research examines the construction of an identity as a singer by fifteen music education majors studying voice as their principal instrument in four Canadian universities. The data arises from long semi-structured interviews with these singers undertaken during their time in university. While this report is a new analysis
based on the idiosyncratic features of singers, the data arose in the first instance for the books A Place to Play (Roberts, 1991) and I, Musician (Roberts, 1993). Since these books have gained a foothold in the music education literature, and in the interest of time and space, I will leave more detailed descriptions of the general background to those who would pursue it elsewhere.

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