Date of Award

Fall 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Edward Hafer

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Mark Waymire

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Amanda Schlegel

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Webb Parker

Committee Member 4 School



The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the essence of Winter Guard International (WGI) as lived by ten stakeholders, invested individuals currently serving in leadership roles within the percussion and winds divisions of the WGI organization. Through the lens of a social constructivist theoretical framework, and the use of individual interviews to obtain data, this study considered what participants have experienced and the contexts in which these experiences have taken place. Grounded theory concepts were used initially to clarify the perspective and scope of the study. Analysis of the data involved the identification of significant statements from participant interviews. These statements were grouped into four main themes that appeared to be common to all participants. The four themes were: 1) the Development of Character and Identity: Non-Musical Outcomes, 2) Achievement and Excellence, 3) WGI as Educational Entity, and 4) Competition. Additional subthemes were identified for two of the four main themes. Findings indicate that though participants in this study approached WGI from varying backgrounds and distinct personal contexts, their reported experiences with WGI are remarkably similar. Findings further indicate that these experiences resulted in an enthusiastic view of the organization’s positive and life-changing influence on students as musicians, performers, and citizens. The implications for WGI’s contribution to instrumental music education, and school band programs specifically, are discussed. Topics for future research are suggested.