Creative Commons License

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


Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


School of Music


David Stringham

William M. Dabback

Benjamin Selznick


School music participation in the United States has continued to decline over the past 70 years, the effects of which can be seen on university campuses across the country. This decline has become a commonly understood trend among those observing the state of K-12 public schools, and universities have been largely overlooked as a place for students to continue—or, even less often, begin—to explore musical interests and opportunities. What are possible explanations for this decline? Do universities themselves have an obligation to provide or expand music lessons, ensembles, and musical resources for students as part of the university experience?

In this explanatory sequential mixed methods study, I identified university students’ past and present participation in music as well as their interests in pursuing or continuing to pursue music making opportunities. Using significant findings from quantitative data, I interviewed administrators to gather their opinions and perspectives on the institution’s responsibility to accommodate an expansion of music making opportunities through curricular or policy change. Data from phase two interviews suggested that large-scale curricular change is untenable. Administrators referred most often to time, physical resources, and money as the largest deterrents to expansion. They also expressed a need for nonmusic students to focus on their career tracks and for the institution’s music faculty to focus their efforts on students seeking a degree in music. Implications of this study include viewing college as largely vocational. Additionally, administrators may have an overinflated perception of how widely their institution’s music program will reach.



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