What is it about?

This article presents an overview of the lived experiences of self-proclaimed professional musicians in a mid-sized Canadian city and contextualizes their music careers according to the size and location of the community in which they live and work.

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Why is it important?

Musicians have generally experience a long tradition of low income, employment instability and short careers compared to many other occupations. Moreover, their "work" in music often begins in childhood and becomes such a heavy investment of time and resources that it is difficult to abandon the effort towards a career in the field with which they have grown so comfortable and accustomed over a lifetime. This article explores the experiences of musicians with a particular emphasis on the size and geographic location of a specific city.


I have studied music since age 8 and have always been steadfastly committed to performing since I began taking instruction in early childhood. For more than 20 years, I have worked tirelessly as a freelance musician in the city that is the focal point of this research, experiencing - as many of my informants have - periods of employment instability, inconsistent income and competition. I have long been interested in reporting on musicians' coping strategies to manage careers in a field to which they have been committed over an entire life.

Dr. David Chafe

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Harmonic Dissonance: Coping with Employment Precarity among Professional Musicians in St John’s, Canada, Work Employment and Society, August 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0950017019865877.
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