Negotiating individuality and collectivity in community music. A qualitative case study

Andrea Schiavio*, Dylan van der Schyff, Andrea Gande, Silke Kruse-Weber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we report on a qualitative study based on the “Meet4Music” (M4M) project recently developed at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria. M4M is a low-threshold community-based program where participatory sessions dedicated to different artistic activities are freely offered to people from different social and cultural backgrounds. Our study explores how M4M promotes self-expression, creativity, social understanding, and artistic development through a number of interviews that we collected with the “facilitators”—those who help guide the heterogeneous ensemble of participants without being committed to a fixed and pre-defined teaching content. Our data focus on three aspects of M4M: “mutual collaborations,” “non-verbal communication,” and “sense of togetherness.” Taking the “enactive” approach to cognition as a theoretical background, we argue that M4M helps to promote a sense of community that goes beyond the distinction between “individuality” and “collectivity.” M4M encourages participants to meaningfully engage in collective forms of artistic activities, and develop new perspectives on their cultural identities that can play a key role for their flourishing as musical beings. In conclusion, we briefly consider possibilities for future research and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-721
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number5
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: A. S. is supported by a Lise Meitner Postdoctoral Fellowship granted by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): project number M2148. D. v.d. S. is supported by a postdoctoral fellowship granted by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • collaboration
  • Community music
  • embodiment
  • improvisation
  • pedagogy

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