Frank Piekarz

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Lieberman, Joyce M.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Teaching and Learning


Music in education--Illinois--Public opinion; High school students--Illinois--Attitudes


American music educators continue to struggle in school districts across the country, where their programs lack funding and community support. Music education advocacy efforts attempt to address these challenges, but leaders in the field have yet to set forth a cohesive advocacy framework. Leaders in one group insist that evidence about the benefits of musical instruction should come solely from a set of musical outcomes (i.e., performance skill development, aesthetic appreciation, etc.), while another group wishes to highlight benefits in terms of growth in nonmusical arenas (i.e. social and affective benefits, lowered dropout rates among music students, etc.). The purpose of this study is to examine high school choral students’ perceptions of the most valued aspects of their high school choral music experiences, thus providing a student-centered perspective of the importance of the high school choral music program as a part of the total high school curriculum. This study, completed at one high school in the western suburbs of Chicago, sought the wisdom of choral music students regarding the value that they place on their high school choral music experiences. Four focus group interviews and six individual interviews were conducted with 39 graduating seniors. Additionally, a document review containing choral music curriculum documents was completed, as a means of comparing the intended curriculum as represented in the curriculum documents with the learned curriculum as described by students. Data from both sources were coded thematically. Five major themes emerged from the interview data: Musical Growth and Appreciation, Performance Skill Development, Personal Emotional Growth, Social Growth, and Contact with Excellent Instructors. The themes suggest that students place equal importance on the musical and extramusical aspects of their high school choral music experiences. These findings contrast with both formal curriculum document analysis, in which musical goals are stressed over extramusical goals, as well as the continuing debate among music education leaders about the most important aspects of formal music instruction. It is hoped that the authentic data provided by students in this study can assist leaders in the field to build more universal justification statements about the value of music programs for students.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [195]-204).


vi, 263 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type