University of Oulu

Teachers’ experiences regarding the effects of music on their identity development throughout their life cycles

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Author: Ryökäs, Inna1; Toivanen, Anna-Maija1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
Pages: 123
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : I. Ryökäs; A.-M. Toivanen, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-01-05
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Heikkinen, Hannu Matti Sakari
Reviewer: Sääskilahti, Minna Susanna
Heikkinen, Hannu Matti Sakari


The topic of our thesis is the connection between music and identity as it is relevant from the point of view of future teachers. We aspire to be able to support students’ identity development musically, and this can only be done if we ourselves acknowledge the potential influence music has on identity development. The focus of our thesis is teachers, as they themselves have more life experience than students, as well as experiences from within the school context. The primary participants for our study are 11 teachers from around Finland, each with their own individual stories to tell. Our aim is to comprehensively examine how music has, according to their narrations, influenced varying dimensions of their identities. The dimensions we will focus on are self-identity, social identity, national and cultural identity, musical identity, and professional identity.

The methodology for our study is qualitative narrative research as we felt it adequately suits our needs. We set out to biographically examine our participants experiences, and thus, lives. We conducted our study in two phases: (1) an online questionnaire and (2) a follow up interview via Zoom. Hence, we will discuss two sets of data, connecting them when necessary. When analyzing the data, we utilized Ricoeur’s triphasic mimesis theory as well as Polkinghorne’s theory of temporality. These theories aided us in understanding how identity is constructed and can be perceived through narratives.

Some key findings we discovered are, for example, the importance of music in social interaction and teachers’ professional identities, exploring cultures, and self-expression, the various different ways we can define ourselves through music, and the influence of music on self-esteem. In addition to verifying previous research, our study provides some new knowledge to the field of music and identity: Some of our participants reported having experienced some negative impacts of music on their identities, such as music causing feelings of exclusion, as well as humiliation and lowered self-esteem stemming from forced musical performing in front of others. In this thesis, we will endeavor to neutrally research the positive and negative aspects equally, taking into consideration every participant’s individual and unique experiences.

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Copyright information: © Inna Ryökäs; Anna-Maija Toivanen, 2021. Except otherwise noted, the reuse of this document is authorised under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) licence ( This means that reuse is allowed provided appropriate credit is given and any changes are indicated. For any use or reproduction of elements that are not owned by the author(s), permission may need to be directly from the respective right holders.