Autoethnography and self-reflexivity in music studies

Find out more about our autoethnography and self-reflexivity in music studies research.


Institute of Musical Research (IMR) *Two-day* Conference

in association with the School of Advanced Study, University of London

16-17 April 2018, Senate House, London

*Please note that this event has now been expanded to a two-day conference running on both Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 April.*


Conference registration fees are £35, or £25 for students and the unwaged.

Provisional programme (including abstracts):

Keynote Speakers: Professor Neil Heyde (Royal Academy of Music, London); Professor Darla Crispin (Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo); Ian Pace (City, University of London)

The advent of autoethnography, a form of qualitative social science research that combines an author’s narrative self-reflection with analytical interpretation of the broader contexts in which that individual operates (e.g. Etherington, 2004; Chang, 2008), has come at a critical time for the discipline of music. In the UK, the expectation of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) that creative practice outputs will be contextualised through an accompanying commentary signals the urgency for establishing scholarly structures suited to the discussion of one’s own work by performers, composers, and music technologists alike.

The recent inauguration of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), meanwhile, places a renewed emphasis on pedagogic research, for which autoethnography will increasingly prove to be critical in facilitating discourse on individual teachers’ experiences, in anticipation of the upcoming subject pilot for TEF and discipline-level evaluation being implemented more widely thereafter. As a methodology, autoethnography also yields enormous breadth of potential elsewhere in music studies, with the capacity to support academic enquiry encompassing individual experiences as listener or concert-goer, habits and modes of music consumption, and conduct as fans or aficionados.

While autoethnographic approaches have received significant application to the discipline of music internationally, for instance in Australia (Bartleet & Ellis, 2009) and the US (Manovski, 2014), this study day aims to raise its visibility at such a timely juncture in the UK. It will thereby consolidate the seminal contributions made by isolated studies in areas such as music education (Wiley & Franklin, 2017; Kinchin & Wiley, 2017), sonic arts (Findlay-Walsh, 2018), and composition and performance (Armstrong & Desbruslais, 2014). It also offers significant opportunity to initiate dialogue with academic fields as disparate as the social sciences, education, and health studies, in which autoethnography is more substantively practised.

At the same time, this study day will bring together composers, performers, musicologists, and music teachers, seeking to explore different modes of autoethnography with a view to establishing an analytical vein in continuation of previous work undertaken within music studies (e.g. Bartleet & Ellis, 2009). With an emphasis on transcending the production of so-called ‘mesearch’ – work that merely draws upon the author’s autobiographical description in an academic context – the event will cultivate modes of engagement in music research that enable scholar-practitioners at all levels to locate their experiences within a robust intellectual framework as well as to articulate their relationship to wider sociocultural contexts.


CFP: deadline for submissions 12 January 2018

20-minute papers (plus 10 minutes for questions) are invited on any aspect relevant to the study day’s themes.

Proposals for panels of 3–4 papers (1.5–2 hours) on a closely related topic are also warmly welcomed, as are proposals for roundtables (3–5 participants, 1 hour duration). The latter should be thematically integrated and dialogue-based rather than simply a series of unconnected mini-papers.

Note that papers will be expected to offer some critical self-reflection on method, and not merely to set out ground covered in an individual’s own practice. Those that adopt non-traditional formats, or incorporate a practice as research component, will be warmly welcomed.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be e-mailed by 12 January 2018 to Christopher Wiley, (enquiries to the same address). Decisions will be communicated to speakers by 5 February 2018.

The registration fee will be £20 per person (reduced rates of £10 available for students/the unwaged), including lunch and refreshments. A limited number of bursaries will be offered to students/the unwaged to offset travel costs, up to a maximum of £60 each.

Organising Committee: Christopher Wiley (University of Surrey, Chair), Iain Findlay-Walsh (University of Glasgow), Tom Armstrong (University of Surrey)

Study Day Supporters: Institute of Musical Research, in association with the School of Advanced Study, University of London, Senate House (funding supplied by Nick Baker)

Further information: Dr Christopher Wiley (University of Surrey):

Bibliography of Autoethnographic Research in Music Studies 

Please send suggestions for inclusion on the below bibliography to

Armstrong, T., & Desbruslais, S. (2014) Composer and Performer: An Experimental Turn and its Consequences. Paper presented at the Institute of Musical Research, 2 June 2014. <

Bartleet, B.-L., & Ellis, C. (2009) (eds.) Music Autoethnographies: Making Autoethnography Sing/Making Music Personal. Bowen Hills: Australian Academic Press.

Bonfield-Brown, J. (2018) Assessing Musical Ability: An Action Research Study in Instrumental Music Tuition. EdD Thesis, Nottingham Trent University.

Findlay-Walsh, I. (forthcoming 2018) Sonic autoethnographies: personal listening as compositional context. Organised Sound, in press.

Gouzouasis, P., & Ihnatovych, D. (2016) The dissonant duet: An autoethnography of a music teacher-student relationship. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 14(2), 14–32. <>.

Gouzouasis, P., & Regier, C. (2015) Adolescent love and relationships: An autoethnography of songwriting and guitar playing. Journal of Artistic & Creative Education, 9(1), 68–98.

Gouzouasis, P., & Ryu, J.Y. (2015) A pedagogical tale from the piano studio: Autoethnography in early childhood music education research. Music Education Research, 17(4), 397–420.

Gouzouasis, P., & Yanko, M. (in press, 2017) Reggio’s arpeggio: Becoming pedagogical through autoethnography. In: W. Parnell & J.M. Iorio (eds.) Disrupting early childhood education research: Imagining possibilities. New York: Routledge.

Harrison, C.M. (2016) A songwriter’s journey from little-c to Pro-C creativity: An applied analytical autoethnography. PhD diss., University of Newcastle, Australia. <>.

Hawley, R. (forthcoming) A reflexive study of musician practice in a paediatric hospital setting. PhD diss., SOAS, University of London.

Kinchin, I.M. & Wiley, C. (2017) Tracing pedagogic frailty in arts and humanities education: An autoethnographic perspective. Arts & Humanities in Higher Education, 0(0), 1–24. <>.

Kennett, C. (2008) A Tribe Called Chris: Pop music analysis as idioethnomusicology. Open Space, 10, 8–19.

Lee, K.V. (2008) Scrabble: An autoethnography about adoption. Iowa Journal of Communication, 40(1&2), 115–25.

Lee. K.V. (2008) A slice of fruitcake: An autoethnographic reflection. Journal of Aging, Humanities and Arts, 2(1), 41–7.

Lee, K.V. (2010) An autoethnography: Music therapy after laser eye surgery. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(4), 244–8.

Lee, K.V., & Gouzouasis, P. (2016) Suicide is painless: An autoethnography of tragedy. LEARNing Landscapes, 9(2), 339–50.

Lee, K.V., & Gouzouasis, P. (2017) Tommy’s tune: Autoethnographic duet. Qualitative Inquiry, 23(4), 316–20.

Manovski, M.P. (2014) Arts-Based Research, Autoethnography, and Music Education: Singing Through a Culture of Marginalization. Rotterdam: Sense.

Spry, T. (2010) Call it swing: A jazz blues autoethnography. Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies, 10(4), 271–82.

Wiley, C., & Franklin, J. (2017) Framed autoethnography and pedagogic frailty: A comparative analysis of mediated concept maps. In: I.M. Kinchin and N. Winstone (eds.) Pedagogic Frailty and Resilience in the University. Rotterdam: Sense, pp. 17–32. <>.

Williams, B. (2018) Preparation, rehearsal, performance, and reflection: A conductor’s autoethnographical study of the process of interpretation. PhD diss., University of St Andrews. 

General Bibliography on Autoethnography

Acosta, S., Goltz, H.H., & Goodson, P. (2015) Autoethnography in action research for health education practitioners. Action Research, 0(0), 1–21.

Anderson, L. (2006) Analytic autoethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35(4), 373–95.

Austin, J., & Hickey, A. (2007) Autoethnography and Teacher Development. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 2. <>.

Banks. S., & Banks, A. (2000) Reading ‘the critical life’: Autoethnography as pedagogy. Communication Education, 49(3), 233–8.

Belbase, S., Luitel, B., & Taylor, P. (2008) Autoethnography: A method of research and teaching for transformative education. Journal of Education and Research, 1(1), 86–95.

Bickel, B. (2005) From artist to a/r/tographer: An autoethnographic ritual inquiry into writing on the body. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, 2(2), 8–17.

Chang, H. (2008) Autoethnography as method. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast.

Chang, H., Ngunjiri, F., & Hernandez, K. (2013) Collaborative autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast.

Denzin, N., & Lincoln, Y. (eds.) (2000) The handbook of qualitative research, 2nd edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Dyson, M. (2007) My Story in a Profession of Stories: Auto Ethnography – an Empowering Methodology for Educators. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 32(1), 36–48.

Ellis, C. (2000) Creating criteria: An autoethnographic short story. Qualitative Inquiry, 6(2), 273–7.

Ellis, C. (2004) The ethnographic I: A methodological novel about autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.

Ellis, C. (2009) Autoethnography as method. Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, 32(2), 360–3.

Ellis, C., & Bochner, A. (2006) Analyzing Analytic Autoethnography: An Autopsy. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35(4), 429–49.

Ellis, C., Adams, T., & Bochner, A. (2010) Autoethnography: An overview. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1). <>.

Etherington, K. (2004) Becoming a Reflexive Researcher: Using our selves in research. London: Kingsley.

Hayler, M. (2011) Autoethnography, self-narrative and teacher education. Rotterdam: Sense.

Hernández, F., Sancho, J., Creus, A., & Montané, A. (2010) Becoming university scholars: Inside professional autoethnographies. Journal of Research Practice, 6(1), Article M7. <>.

Holt, N.L. (2003) Representation, legitimation, and autoethnography: An autoethnographic writing story. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 2(1), 1–22.

Jones, S., Adams, T., & Ellis, C. (eds.) Handbook of Autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: West Coast.

Learmonth, M., & Humphreys, M. (2011) Autoethnography and academic identity: glimpsing business school doppelgängers. Organization, 19(1), 99–117.

Meneley, A., & Young, D. (eds.) (2005) Auto-ethnographies: The anthropology of academic practices. Peterborough, ON: Broadview.

Pelias, R. (2014) An autoethnographic writer’s request to readers. International Review of Qualitative Research, 7(3), 279–82.

Reed-Danahay, D. (ed.) (1997) Auto/ethnography: Rewriting the self and the social. New York: Berg.

Roth, W. (ed.) (2005) Auto/biography and auto/ethnography: Praxis of research method. Rotterdam: Sense.

Shreeve, A. (2009) ‘I’d rather be seen as a practitioner, come in to teach my subject’: Identity Work in Part-Time Art and Design Tutors. International Journal of Art & Design Education, 28(2), 151–9.

Spry, T. (2001) Performing autoethnography: An embodied methodological praxis. Qualitative Inquiry, 7(6), 706–32.

Spry, T. (2011) Body, paper, stage: Writing and performing autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast.

Tolich, M. (2010) A critique of current practice: Ten foundational guidelines for autoethnographers. Qualitative Health Research, 20, 1599–610.

Trahar, S. (2013) Autoethnographic Journeys in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. European Educational Research Journal, 12(3), 367–75.

Vasconcelos, E. (2011) ‘I Can See You’: An Autoethnography of My Teacher-Student Self. The Qualitative Report, 16(2), 415–40. <>.

Wiley, C. (2014) Academic leadership in learning and teaching in higher education: A personal reflection on one programme director’s professional development. Learning at City Journal, 4(2), 39–49. <>.

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