Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Ann Kruger, Ph.D., Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Patrick Freer, Ed.D., Committee Co-Chair

Third Advisor

Katie Carlisle, Ph.D., Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Nannette Commander, Ph.D., Committee Member

Fifth Advisor

Mary Ariail, Ph.D., Committee Member

Sixth Advisor

Steven Harper, Ph.D., Committee Member


This research was purposed to discover how students perceived the impact of participation or lack of participation in school music classes on their global school experiences during secondary school. The research stemmed from concern that recent focus on state and federal mandates may have resulted in a return to educational policies that discount consideration of student experience. All choir students (N = 160) at a large university in the southeastern United States comprised the participant population for the initial screening questionnaire, with 135 students returning completed surveys. Questionnaire results informed the purposeful sampling of 16 students in six focus groups. The focus-group responses guided the selection of the six students from the focus groups to participate in one 30-45 minute individual interview. The researcher-designed screening questionnaire was a structured survey with open-ended and closed questions (Creswell, 2012; Markus & Nurius, 1986). The interview instruments had guiding questions based on the phenomenological suggestions of Moustakas (1994). The resulting information is in narrative form. Analysis, beginning with the data generated by the questionnaire, was ongoing throughout the study. Hallam’s (2002) motivational model positing the malleable aspects of the personality such as self-esteem, self-efficacy, possible selves, and the ideal self anchored the final analysis. Students reflected on the overarching question, “Did involvement or lack of involvement in school music affect students’ perceptions of the global school experience and extra-musical success?” The findings support the premise that participation in school music can have a positive affect on students’ comprehensive school experience extending to a sense of community, increased self-confidence and leadership, enhanced learning in non-music classes, and a time of relief from academic stress. At-risk students described the ameliorating effects of music participation on their challenging life situations. An ancillary finding was that many students were advised to discontinue music classes to take advanced academic classes, rather than for remediation. These results of this study may provide a useful tool for advocacy. Future research could investigate whether participation in music classes promotes learning and memory consolidation of academic knowledge by providing divergent learning tasks that stimulate new modes of thinking.