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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)

Department

School of Music

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the background, educational, musical and professional factors that may contribute to the career longevity of string orchestra directors. Nine retired orchestra directors from the state of Virginia served as participants for this study. The names and contact information of the participants were acquired by various means including a mass email announcement inviting retired orchestra directors to participate in a survey that was received by all of the members of the Virginia Chapter of the American String Teachers Association, and by word of mouth within the educational community. Participants (N = 9) completed an online Qualtrics survey consisting of 45 self-reflective questions designed to examine the musical, educational, and professional experiences that occurred throughout the lives of the participants, from their youth and into retirement. The survey questions were organized by broad topic, and included questions specific to the following aspects: musical participation; demographic information, childhood experiences, collegiate experiences, teaching career experiences, and retirement experiences. Once each participant’s individual survey responses were completed, they were collected and the data grouped and compared, with percentages then being formulated for each of the questions as appropriate. Participants’ free response answers were then transcribed, examined, grouped and categorized. The results of this study, which were formulated using both the survey answers and free response question responses suggested that the surveyed retired orchestra teachers shared a number of common shared characteristics/experiences, among which were: lifelong participation in music which included an increased amount of activity beginning in high school; the belief in the value of providing mentors to beginning teachers; and there was a positive correlation between the retired orchestra director’s perceptions of support, their reported levels of teaching ease, and the length of their careers. Given the current level of teacher attrition, it is important to make efforts to understand those aspects that contribute negatively and positively to the lasting careers of our music teachers.

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