Date of Award



© 2020 Eli Marcus

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Michelle Collay

Second Advisor

Brianna Parsons


This study aimed to examine what students find meaningful and why students value certain aspects of their participation in a musical ensemble. The understanding of experiences and aspects of participation that students’ value or prize for themselves are vital in maintaining consistent progress and developing a relatable curriculum that is progressive and creatively stimulating. Interviews and portions of rehearsal and concert recordings were transcribed into written format and coded. I then analyzed the data by first examining the contextual dimensions of each ensemble and then examining expressions of value in an attempt to illustrate the people, place, and processes that made each ensemble a unique setting while discussing the themes of meaning situated within each context.

Research questions for this study focused on what students perceived as meaningful about their participation and the extent to which context shaped their experiences. The following questions guide this investigation:

1. What experiences or aspects of ensemble participation are most motivational to student? a. To what extent does educational environment play a role in influential engagement?

2. How do the perceptions and experiences of ensemble participants suggest underlying principles of motivational influence and value within instrumental ensembles?

I endeavored to represent male and female students of a range of ages, experience levels, and, in the jazz ensemble, primary instruments. The primary student participants range in age from 18 to 28 years old with all students having participated in a school music program for at least one year. Data was collected from a variety of sources from April 2019 through June 2019. Data was drawn from individual interviews, observations, artifacts and video and audio recordings of rehearsals and performances.

Participants generally valued achievement, particularly when it related to goals and life aspirations. Students universally valued their own growth, which became apparent to them gradually over time, in a moment of realization or a culminating performance. Students also found proper execution meaningful as they are invested in the outcome. Public performances and competitions presented opportunities for meaningful performances for ensemble students and opportunities to improvise proved to be a potent source of meaningful performance experiences.


Ed.D. Dissertation