Thesis Title

The Impact Of Public School Music Classes On Lifelong Music Participation

Date of Graduation

Summer 2001


Master of Music



Committee Chair

Norma McClellan

Subject Categories



The ultimate goal of music education should be the preparation of students for lifelong music participation. To assess whether or not music education is meeting this goal, feedback must be obtained from those who have experienced a public school music education to determine its effectiveness. A study of musically active adults and their experiences with public school music education revealed these trends. Of the surveyed participants, 96% had elementary music, 95% has junior high music, and 93% had high school music. Some 83% had private instruction and 85% participated in non-school musical activities. Only 17% mentioned negative experiences, while 54% noted positive school music experiences, and 11% reported both positive and negative experiences. High school teachers were names by 41% of the participants as most influential in shaping their musical attitudes and careers. Family influence was next (37%), followed by church choir directors (27%), private instructors (26%), junior high teachers (20%), and elementary teachers (16%). Teachers were listed most often on both the positive and negative experience lists. Other positive factors were personal benefits, i.e. self-esteem, enjoyment, fun, friendships, and discipline. Other negative experiences included scheduling restraints, lack of advanced curriculum, over-crowded programs, and not enough individualized feedback. Transition from school choral programs to adult choral programs appears relatively successful. Instrumental school programs are not as successful in producing lifelong instrumentalists.


© Lisa Christenson