Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Arts, Performing arts studies, Musicology

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of PhD, Technological University Dublin, Conservatory of Music and Drama .


This study focuses on bimusical instrumental learning, exploring the perceptions, beliefs and musical practices of students who are simultaneously engaged in learning classical and Irish traditional musics. The literature on bimusicality addresses how it has evolved in various social and educational contexts. This research focuses on the bimusical learning processes and practices of students, aged sixteen to twenty years, as they cross between the different learning modes associated with these two musical traditions in an Irish context. This qualitative study adopts a collective case study approach, using a purposive sampling strategy. Data collected include: videotaped lessons, recorded practice/playing sessions, observations of a range of music-making activities, and interviews with the participants, their parents and teachers. The seven participants were chosen from various formal and informal learning contexts and represent a range of instruments: a saxophonist/traditional flute/uilleann piper; two violinist/fiddlers; a cellist/uilleann pipes/whistle player; a classical/traditional harpist/concertina player; a pianist/flute player; and a pianist/accordion player. The research findings highlight the individuality of these students’ bimusical practices and are suggestive of a more nuanced image of the natural bimusical musician than was perhaps indicated in earlier literature. There is evidence of different levels of immersion, participation, commitment and, to some extent, fluency in the participants’ involvement in the two traditions. The research illustrates how issues such as diversity, choice, ease and ownership are important to these students as they sustain their musical involvements in both traditions. The communal/social dimension of music making receives special attention, particularly in the context of group music making. Such concepts as tradition, innovation and identity also emerge as the thesis explores how these young musicians negotiate the many similarities, confluences and contrasts of their individual bimusical worlds.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License