Developing artistic identity in a post-secondary musical theatre program
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This qualitative multiple-case study examined the pedagogical role that performance arts training played in the emergence of students’ mature artistic identities. As one of many instructors in the musical theatre program of a post-secondary college, the author fulfilled both the roles of researcher and studio music teacher. Multiple learning contexts were observed for eight first-year students; these contexts included the regimens in various artistic classrooms and in the vocal studio. The data comprised field observations from studio and classroom settings, individual interviews with eight students from the vocal studio, and audio recordings from their studio sessions. Data analysis revealed that the students’ construction of identity was positively impacted by: the “triple-threat” program components, the unique dyad relationship between the vocal studio teacher and her students, and the rigorous, professional training the students underwent. A study of the interactions amongst the disciplines of music, dance, and drama exhibited several implications in relation to the students’ acute identity experiences. Recommendations for improved musical theatre curricula centred on improved integration of the three disciplines, enhanced studio time, and greater skill development in the studio. Suggestions for future research in performance arts education were also offered.