Examining the Role of Popular Music in Education: a Quasi-Experimental Study Investigating Retention in Rural Southwest Missouri Middle Schools


Daniel Ligon

Date of Graduation

Fall 2003


Master of Music



Committee Chair

Norma McClellan


Research in music education continued to refine and edify music educators making them more effective in the classroom. By critically examining popular music in curriculum and reviewing case studies and highlighting current trends in music education, the music educator could be more effective in their methodology of music to students. The purpose of this study was to examine how students ranging in ages 11 to 14 in Southwest Missouri rural schools retain the basic music concept of simple and complex rhythms by listening to popular music selection versus those who listen to a classical selection. The groups were separated into a control group (11 and 13) and the experimental group (12 and 14) to compare differences. Data was obtained through a series of surveys with quantitative results. The results compared gender, age level and mean response. The results showed a relationship between prior knowledge and the music listened to by the groups. Specifically the comparisons suggested that the males, after listening to the pieces in this study, did retain the concept of rhythm more positively than the female participants. Through an examination of the genre of popular music, teachers expand and enhance their ability to influence future musicians in Western society.

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© Daniel Ligon