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The role of leisure activities in the wellbeing of musicians

Ranaweera, L. N. A. (2020) The role of leisure activities in the wellbeing of musicians. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University in collaboration with Royal Northern College of Music.

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Abstract

This thesis addresses two research questions: 1a) How much leisure time do music students at conservatoires and universities, and amateur and professional musicians, have? 1b) How do they choose to spend it? and 2) To what extent do music students at conservatoires and universities, and professional musicians, find music making in their leisure time beneficial for their health and wellbeing? A review of literature pertaining to three areas was carried out. Research in the field of leisure studies demonstrates that leisure time is important and engaging in leisure activities can facilitate health and wellbeing. Research on everyday uses of music shows that music making can also have a wide range of benefits for people’s health and wellbeing when part of an intervention, or when it is engaged in as a leisure pursuit, at an amateur level. Nevertheless, research on musicians demonstrates that music making at a professional level can pose many challenges to music students and professional musicians’ physical health and psychological wellbeing. No research has yet combined these three areas to investigate music students’ and professional musicians’ experiences of leisure and wellbeing. Pilot interviews were designed and carried out with a convenience sample of seven conservatoire students and professional musicians to investigate if the topic of musicians’ leisure time was worth pursuing, to obtain some preliminary findings to inform the design of a survey. This was designed and distributed to a total of 637 university and conservatoire students, and amateur and professional musicians, to measure their wellbeing, satisfaction with life and work orientation, and to investigate how much leisure time they had, how they spent it and the extent to which their leisure activities contributed to their wellbeing. Finally, follow-up interviews were conducted with a sub-set of 16 survey respondents to investigate the second research question further. The results indicate that musicians have leisure time or make time for leisure activities because they consider leisure important for their wellbeing. Musicians engage in both musical and non-musical leisure activities and find them beneficial to a large extent. Musical leisure activities are either different from, or contribute to, their studies or their work. They also remind them of their love for music making when they are disillusioned by their work. Musicians engage in non-musical leisure activities to escape from music. In their role as musicians they undertake a range of musical activities and consider some of them as leisure even though they might be paid for doing them. It can be difficult for musicians to distinguish between work and leisure because of the enjoyment they obtained from making music when it was merely a hobby, and the passion they feel towards it. In the conclusion to the thesis it is recommended that musicians should spend more time on leisure activities and use their leisure time to engage in activities that improve their general wellbeing. The thesis ends by outlining the implications of this research and making suggestions for future research.

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