Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Abigail Buter


Some students find connecting to music classes in school to be difficult, as the music and learning styles used in the traditional school music program can seem separated from music in the “real world.” The dichotomous relationship between school music and “real” music can lead students away from developing a positive musical identity, which negatively affects their chances of choosing to make music later in life. In order to support the development of positive musical identities, I began teaching rock band to all of my fifth grade students. This phenomenological case study explores the experience of six students who participated in the first year of that class. Interviews with the students were used to describe the participants’ perceptions of learning in this class. The description of the findings focuses on four important threads of musical engagement: popular music in the music classroom, informal learning, social identity, and motivations to learn music.