Music, School of


First Advisor

Rhonda J. Fuelberth

Date of this Version



DeAmbrose, M.M. (2019). "Choir might actually save your life": A convergent mixed methods study on adolescents' attitudes and perceptions of singing and middle level vocal music (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Music, Under the Supervision of Professor Rhonda J. Fuelberth. Lincoln, NE: May, 2019.

Copyright (c) 2019 Marci M. Malone DeAmbrose


As students progress through grade levels in school settings, the instructional frameworks through which music education might occur become more numerous and varied. Most students are provided general music courses at the elementary level; however, current approaches to middle level music instruction rely on the ensemble approach or the general music model (Cronenberg, 2017; Wayman 2005). To serve the needs of students who desire a breadth of music education, schools have explored composition and theory; music technology; and guitar, keyboard, harmonizing instruments courses (NAfME, 2014). Yet, the ensemble method of teaching music permeates schools throughout the United States (Heuser, 2011; Kelly 2016).

Currently, scheduling models for secondary music classes are inconsistent. Vocal music is offered both as a curricular class that meets during the school day and also as an extracurricular activity that meets outside of the school day. The purpose of this mixed methods study is to explore the attitudes and perceptions of eighth grade students toward singing and choir participation in relation to gender, voice mutation stage, and method of music instruction. Within this study, method of music instruction includes curricular vocal music instruction, curricular instrumental ensemble instruction, curricular music instruction and extra-curricular choral ensemble, and curricular instrumental and curricular vocal ensemble instruction.

The results of this mixed methods study suggest that the gap between instrumental and vocal music participation continues to widen at the middle level. Curricular instrumental ensembles significantly affect attitudes and perceptions of singing and vocal music in middle school. Gender has a significant effect on singing interest in male students (M=2.19, SD=.54) and the retention of male singers is still a priority in the middle school classroom. Classroom singing activities continue to have both positive and negative effects on singing experiences and students tend to feel more comfortable with out of school singing experiences. Yet, adolescents find something unique in choral singing in school that is not otherwise present in other environments.

Advisor: Rhonda J. Fuelberth

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