Graduate Program

Music Education Option

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2020

Thesis Director

Danelle Larson

Thesis Committee Member

Shellie L. Gregorich

Thesis Committee Member

Stefan Eckert

Thesis Committee Member

Liza Meyers


The purpose of this qualitative action research study was to examine and identify the listening preferences and musical identity of high school members of performing ensembles. Participants were involved in five stages of data collection; the initial questionnaire, the first listening journal, a feedback questionnaire, the second listening journal, and individual interviews. Data was collected during the 2017-2018 school year, and participants completed all phases during their personal time. Three research questions framed this study:

1) How do the listening preferences of students help shape their musical identities?

2) Do students’ listening preferences outside of school conflict with their in school music identities?

3) How can music teachers support the development of students’ musical identities in a school performing ensemble?

Three themes emerged from the data; the importance of listening identities to the participants, the disconnect between the listening identity and the repertoire performed in ensembles, and the priority that message, meaning, and emotion play in participants’ reasons for listening to music.