Female Vocal Identity Development: A Phenomenology

Bridget Sweet, Elizabeth Cassidy Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of our phenomenology was to investigate the lived experiences of emerging female vocal identity development (ages 19–35 years) and how participants’ lived experiences shaped their future as musicians and music educators. Thirty-nine participants, freshmen through graduate students, enrolled in vocal music education or vocal performance programs within two large universities in the United States completed written responses to an open set of questions that were then discussed during a corresponding in-depth interview. Our analysis revealed four themes: (a) others as powerful influences, (b) voice classification, (c) omnipresent emotion, and (d) perceptions of future involvement. Time underwrote each theme as participants shared lived experiences that took place from age 11 into their 20s and some into the mid-30s. Therefore, consideration of chronological age within each of the themes provided deeper insight on the evolution of female vocal identity development. We found that intrapersonal and interpersonal interactions, both past and present, fostered emotional responses that influenced female vocalists’ perceptions of their voice. These, in combination with encounters with voice classifications and tensions between vocal and choral teachers, influenced their ever-evolving relationship with their instrument. In addition, participants actively used lived experiences to build futures for themselves and their vocal students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-82
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • choral research
  • female singers
  • vocal identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Music


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