Music researchers’ musical engagement

Wöllner, C. and Ginsborg, J. and Williamon, A. (2011) Music researchers’ musical engagement. Psychology of Music, 39 (3). pp. 364-382. ISSN 0305-7356 (print) 1741-3087 (online)


There is an increasing awareness of the importance of reflexivity across various disciplines, which encourages researchers to scrutinize their research perspectives. In order to contextualize and reflect upon research in music, this study explores the musical background, current level of musical engagement and the listening habits of music researchers. A total of 103 respondents of 17 different nationalities, working in music psychology, music science and related areas at various academic levels (e.g., doctoral students, professors and independent researchers), completed an internet survey. Questions addressed four major areas: (1) detailed demographic information and research interests; (2) musical training; (3) current musical activities (e.g., composing, conducting, improvising, listening, performing); (4) musical preferences and listening habits. Findings indicate that nearly all respondents to the survey had studied one or more musical instrument(s), and around 90% still enjoy performing music to some extent. A relatively high number of researchers had composed or improvised music, thus engaging in particularly creative musical activities. Respondents show stronger preferences for classical music and jazz/blues/RnB as compared with other musical genres. Contrary to notions of expert listening, emotional listening styles were rated as more important than analytical listening. Strong relationships between respondents’ musical practice and research were found, leading to the conclusion that music research is a highly practice-informed field.

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