Communities of Musical Practice: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Communities of Musical Practice

1st Edition

By Ailbhe Kenny


156 pages

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Every day people come together to make music. Whether amateur or professional, young or old, jazz enthusiasts or rock stars, what is common to all of these musical groups is the potential to create communities of musical practice (CoMP). Such communities are created through practices: ways of engaging, rules, membership, roles, identities and learning that is both shared through collective musical endeavour and situated within certain sociocultural contexts. Ailbhe Kenny investigates CoMP as a rich model for community engagement, musical participation and transformation in music education.

This book is the first to produce a valid and reliable in-depth study of music communities using a community of practice (CoP) framework - in this case focusing on the social process of musical learning. Employing case study research within Ireland, three illustrations from particular sociocultural, genre-specific, economic and geographical contexts are examined: an adult amateur jazz ensemble, a youth choir, and an online Irish traditional music web platform. Each case is analysed as a distinct community and phenomenon offering sharpened understandings of each sub-culture with specific findings presented for each community.


"Communities of Musical Practice offers a case study of the kind of reflective thinking that is central to philosophical practice. It is an example of how applying a reflective process to research data might provide the profession with both practical and philosophical insights."

- Frank Heuser, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

"Communities of Musical Practice by Ailbhe Kenny provides an in-depth and invaluable insight into ‘situated’ collaborative music-making practices on the ground in Ireland. (…) The real value in this study is in its in-depth look beyond the pervasive, primarily quantitative research emphases on the economic value of the arts to society, in terms of supply and demand, regeneration of communities, and tourism. (…) One of the book’s great strengths lies in the author’s analysis, within a qualitative case study approach, which highlights the importance of engaging in research not to measure, but to ‘capture’ the complexities of multiple viewpoints in different contexts and genres. (…) This study makes a valuable contribution to the field of music education, community music and ongoing debates regarding the social impact and value of arts and culture in our society."

- FRAN GARRY, Irish Journal of Arts Management & Cultural Policy, 2016/17, Volume 4

Table of Contents


Part 1: A Place for Communities of Musical Practice

1. Defining communities of musical practice

2. Investigating communities of musical practice

Part 2: Illustrations of Communities of Musical Practice

3. A jazz community

4. A choral community

5. An online community

Part 3: Insights from Communities of Musical Practice

6. Understanding communities of musical practice

7. Fostering communities of musical practice.



About the Author

Ailbhe Kenny is Lecturer in Music Education at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland. She is a Fulbright Scholar, holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and publishes internationally in journals, handbooks and edited volumes on music, arts and teacher education.

About the Series

SEMPRE Studies in The Psychology of Music

The theme for the series is the psychology of music, broadly defined. Topics include (i) musical development at different ages, (ii) exceptional musical development in the context of special educational needs, (iii) musical cognition and context, (iv) culture, mind and music, (v) micro to macro perspectives on the impact of music on the individual (from neurological studies through to social psychology), (vi) the development of advanced performance skills and (vii) affective perspectives on musical learning. The series presents the implications of research findings for a wide readership, including user-groups (music teachers, policy makers, parents) as well as the international academic and research communities. This expansive embrace, in terms of both subject matter and intended audience (drawing on basic and applied research from across the globe), is the distinguishing feature of the series, and it serves SEMPRE’s distinctive mission, which is to promote and ensure coherent and symbiotic links between education, music and psychology research.


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General