Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Mark Waymire

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Amanda Schlegel

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Webb Parker

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Edward Hafer

Committee Member 4 Department


Committee Member 5

Nicholas Ciraldo

Committee Member 5 Department



“Interactions between the musical lives of adolescents’ and school music-learning culture may be enhanced by acknowledging students’ musical engagement outside of school, accepting their personal musical knowledge and tastes, and allowing them to help develop music-learning models based on their personal relationships with music” (Snead, 2010). Further understanding of the music-learning culture within high school programs may aid researchers in better determining the factors that persuade or alienate student populations from in-school musicking (Small, 1998).

The purpose of this case study was to determine possible factors that may have contributed to student perceptions of the music-learning culture within a musically competitive high school setting and how these factors effected participation in music learning. Participants were drawn from a suburban high school in the Southeastern United States. After collecting questionnaires (N=352), students were divided into five musicking groups based on how they chose to participate in music – Primary, Secondary, Hybrid, Outside, and Non-Musicking. The questionnaire addressed participants’ musical lives inside and outside of the school setting. A second questionnaire was then distributed to the school music teachers using open-ended questions in order to provide further insight into the music-learning culture and to determine commonalities and discrepancies between student and teacher perceptions of the music-learning culture.

Results of this study indicated that the competitive nature of the music-learning culture was responsible for exciting a portion of the student population while causing others to feel apathetic and/or excluded. This alienation seemed to either motivate students to find musical experiences outside of the school environment or caused some to give up on their musical aspirations altogether. Although some participants indicated that they felt disaffected with the music programs within their school, they did not fault the music directors, whose perceptions of the music-learning culture differed from those of students. The competitive nature of the music program and course offerings were found to be the largest factors in both persuading and dissuading music participation.