Perceptions and meanings of belongingness within an orchestra: a narrative study
Rzonsa, Nicholas Matthew
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Framed in Baumeister and Leary’s (1995) theory of belongingness, this study uncovers ways in which a sense of belonging can affect our lives and specifically our performance in musical groups. The theory of belongingness explains that it is a fundamental human need to feel belongingness by forming positive and meaningful relationships with others, and also describes how to achieve and maintain this belongingness. Baumeister and Leary (1995) state that in order for belongingness to be a fundamental human motivation, many criteria must be present among individuals who share social bonds, and satisfying this need requires both frequent interaction and caring context. While there is little research on sense of belonging among musical groups, the experiences that are typical in such groups lend themselves well to the concepts outlined by the authors, making them ideal settings in which to study their theory. In light of Baumeister and Leary’s research, questions addressed in this study were: 1. How do study participants describe belonging to an orchestra? 2. With whom do participants share frequent interaction, where do these interactions occur, and how are sub-groups of the larger ensemble formed? 3. How do participants describe caring context within an orchestra, and how are social bonds formed in light of this caring context? 4. How does sense of belonging affect the participants while playing and building bonds in an orchestra and its sub-groups? Using narrative methods as described by Clandinin and Connelly (2000), this study highlights the engagement of three participants (Robert, Ana, and myself) as we drew out hidden meanings of belongingness in our lives, focusing on participation in an orchestra. My own experience of joining an orchestra provided unique insight and allowed me to be an active participant in constructing narratives along with Robert and Ana. By interacting in the field with the other participants and experiencing what they experienced, I was able to better relate to the feelings of belongingness they described. Field data were collected in the form of recorded audio, observations, personal journal entries, and email correspondence. These data were transcribed and then became interim research texts that the participants and I co-composed together. Data were analyzed and interim and final research texts were written with Clandinin and Connelly’s three-dimensional inquiry space in mind.