Grade 6-12 String Performers' Perceived Meaning of School and Community Youth Orchestra Experience
Type of Degreedissertation
Curriculum and Teaching
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A key issue for string education advocates is the growth of orchestra programs in schools and communities where participants are engaged in learning and performing. There is a need to discover what is personally meaningful to string students so that successful programs can be developed. The purpose of this two-part study was to examine grade 6-12 string performers’ perceptions about the meaning of orchestra experience. A further purpose was to discover if students’ perceptions of meaning differed as a function of ensemble type (school orchestra, community youth orchestra, both school and community orchestra, homeschool orchestra), music experience (private lessons), and instrument ownership (owned, rental, loaned by school or teacher). The research was based on Hylton’s (1980) study with choral students and involved the development and administration of a Likert-type scale (The Orchestra Meaning Scale) to measure students’ perceptions of meaning in orchestra. The scale was administered to string orchestra students in school and community youth orchestras in Alabama and Georgia (N= 467). A principal components factor analysis with oblique rotation indicated that string students’ perception of meaning was defined by Hylton’s five factors (Musical-Artistic, Communicative, Achievement, Integrative, and Psychological). Students answered most positively to items about music learning (Musical-Artistic category). To discover if student meaning differed as a function of ensemble type, music experience, or instrument ownership, a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed. The main effect of ensemble type was significant. The main effects of instrument ownership and music experience were not significant. The results of the study strengthen the idea that orchestra meaning is a multi-dimensional concept. Additionally, the results suggest that ensemble playing is important to musical learning and contributes to the development of other non-musical skills. String teachers should work together to provide multiple opportunities for string students to participate in ensemble playing. More research is needed in the area of ensemble playing in music education, especially in the area of student perceptions about their experiences.