Scott Andrew Caizley

Thesis title:

Bravo Maestros: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of state-schooled student experiences in UK music conservatoires


Over the years, UK music conservatoires have served as the elite training grounds for preparing the world with the next generation of musicians and are considered by many as the backbone of artistic life in the UK. However, whilst these institutions play an integral role in educating talented musicians, the way in which conservatories recruit students can be seen to reflect and perpetuate classical music’s status quo – this being, overwhelmingly white and middle-class. These trajectories are highlighted in the low-participation rates of both Black and Minority Ethnic and state-schooled students who are enrolled on courses in UK music conservatoires. Furthermore, data from UCAS also show how in the UK, the most advantaged fifth of young people remain around six-times more likely to enter courses at conservatoires than the least advantaged group. Through employing an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), Scott’s doctoral research will explore the lived experiences of former state-schooled conservatoire graduates and for the first time, shed light into the experiences of a group which remains heavily underrepresented both in the conservatoire and the classical music industry. Through exploring participants educational and social experiences, Scott’s research will draw on the conceptual frameworks of French social theorist, Pierre Bourdieu. Through aiding the study through a sociological framework, the PhD will hope to generate a wealth of new knowledge to the arena of higher music education and to further expand on the sociological knowledge of class, culture and educational inequalities. This PhD will be the first time any empirical research has been conducted on state-schooled student experiences in UK music conservatoires and in doing so, will play a crucial role in demystifying the social and educational practises of elite higher music education.

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First supervisor:

Ruth Adams


6 – Education, Mind & Society