Staged lives: identity construction of lesbian, bisexual, and gay wind band conductors in the Midwest
Houser, Russell John
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This study investigates how identity construction of lesbian, bisexual, and gay wind band conductors in the Midwest was complicated by stigma and compulsory heterosexuality. The study was motivated by three research questions that considered how environment shapes identity, how agency shapes identity, and how, upon reflection, band conductors describe their identities. Extant research on the subject of LGBTQIA+ band conductors identity included discussion of music teacher identity; however, there was no detailed examination of lesbian, bisexual, or gay identity construction of conductors. In this study I identified stigma and how these conductors subsequently managed their identity in response, while in a position power as well as a position of vulnerability. Additionally, I examined the social environment and the interpersonal relationships with their instrumentalists to understand how these conductors defined themselves in relation to their environment and others in that environment. In order to understand these self- definitions, I interviewed each conductor three times, in a semi-structured format, that moved from general background to specific reflection on their work. The interviews were transcribed, and portions that were representative of the conductors, were extracted and edited to include non-verbal details. These extracts were analyzed used positioning theory analysis to precisely identify how conductors deployed language to describe themselves, events, interactions, and others, directly, indirectly, spatially and temporally. These analyses showed how conductors managed identities while focusing on the welfare of their musicians through caregiver, observer, actor, and activist identities. Additionally, I found stigma and compulsory heterosexuality limited interactions of these conductors with their musicians which was stressful to the conductors. Finally, I considered ways that LGBTQIA+ conductors and students may be able to break some of the silence in music education through formal opportunities at NAfME conferences through performances by LGBA bands and research by LGBTQIA+ educators. Additionally, I considered future research questions regarding how much homophobia and compulsory heterosexuality do music educators tolerate until it becomes a point of resentment, how bands fare with success if programs rebalanced co-equally between musical development and personal development, and finally how might experts include personal development to their students during band development on the podium.
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