Community Music in Portugal: working up to a holistic view

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Background: Community Music (CM) practices in Portugal are widespread. The existence of a degree in CM attests to this. However, like other countries, holistic studies are rare, with most being focused on specific projects (case studies) or spaces of action. There is no published in-depth study about CM in Portugal.
Aims: The aim of this study was to get a holistic overview of CM in Portugal. Namely: i) if the practice presents different aspects in the Portuguese context; ii) the characteristics of those who interact with it; iii) examples of good practices.
Method: Portuguese CM projects were collected, analysed and categorized for: characteristics, aims and profiles of those involved. This data was compared to the results of a thematic analysis of 5 semi-structured interviews with selected specialists, considered so for their relevance as researchers and practitioners of CM in Portugal. All the interview data was codified and analysed using MaxQDA. Data from the projects was collected in a database, with aims of making a public, crowdsourced Wiki in the future.
Results: The analysed data shows that: the profile of the facilitator is maybe the most important factor in determining the success of a project; current CM definitions are too ambiguous; inclusion is difficult, worsened by lack of experience/vocation from practitioners; projects involving music schools are important, but rarer and understudied; many projects happen only once; practitioners have varied backgrounds, many not having a degree in CM, most being both musicians and teachers in music schools; the fields of action are varied, covering music in infancy, an aging population and people in prison; funding opportunities are rare, but growing, aided by European funds for artistic projects with social impact.
Conclusion: CM in Portugal has unique characteristics: smaller, more intimate scope (less funding) and greater diversity (not constrained by funder expectations). The diversity of practitioner backgrounds may be the fruit of lack of funding for the arts, leading musicians/music teachers to search for funding in calls for projects with social impact, which are slightly more common. The fact that most projects happen only once may lead to a sense of loss from the community. CM projects can be helpful tools for combatting the insularity of music schools, creating new human networks with surrounding communities, fomenting cultural democracy. These results enable new paths for investigation into the diversity, coverage, and the profiles of those who interact with CM in Portugal.
Period17 Jul 2022
Event title35th ISME World Conference
Event typeConference
LocationAustraliaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Community Music
  • Thematic Analysis
  • Funding
  • Definitions