Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Patrick Freer

Second Advisor

Natalie King

Third Advisor

Martin Norgaard

Fourth Advisor

Michelle Mercier-DeShon

Fifth Advisor

Patrick Enderle


The purpose of this study was to identify the potential relationship between high school choral experiences and adult amateur musicians’ current motivations to continue making music. The study methodology included the selection of two ensembles (N = 81), the Community Choral Guild (n = 23), an adult community chorus, and Choral Ensemble (n = 58), a university chorus class. All members of both ensembles were invited to provide information via questionnaire about their backgrounds and their recollections of their high school chorus programs. Six participants were selected for individual interviews (n = 6). The two rounds of semi-structured individual interviews were narrative in nature and examined the lifelong motivations of participants to make music in choruses. The interview participants and I co-constructed narrative portraits of their musical life stories (Bignold & Su, 2013; Curry & Walker, 2002). The portrait data were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006, 2019) to extract themes which were in turn examined through theoretical framework lenses of attribution theory and achievement goal theory.

Findings suggested three potential connections between high school chorus and adult amateurs’ motivations to continue making music in ensembles: in high school chorus, participants received instruction that developed their appreciation of music’s aesthetic beauty, inspired their desire for personal growth and achievement, and promoted positive social experiences which contributed to their motivations to seek similar experiences in adult choruses. The six interview participants all resided in a major Southeastern city in the United States and were diverse in self-identified age (19–60+), race (three White/Caucasian, three Black/African American), gender (three male, three female), high school communities (suburban, urban, rural), high school population size (200–3000+), high school experiences, and high school singing motivators. Although their narrative portraits were unique, they each shared, to varying degrees, positive and engaging high school experiences related to the three themes that inspired them to lifelong music learning.

Data indicated experiences beyond-the-classroom, such as trips, competitions, and local performances, were impactful for all participants and deserving of further research. Implications for choral teachers to encourage lifelong learning include maximizing students’ opportunities to experience aesthetic beauty, personal growth and achievement, and positive social experiences in chorus class. Additionally, choral teachers can increase their students’ likelihood of becoming lifelong learners by teaching students the concepts and skills to make music independently, expanding musical ambitions beyond the classroom.


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