This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Recent High School Graduates’ Decisions Regarding High School Band Participation: A Phenomenological Study




Herron, Charlie

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Curriculum and Teaching


The purpose of this qualitative study was to discover why students chose to remain in high school band for four years or drop before they finished high school. The following research questions (RQ) guided this study: 1. What motivated participants to join band? 2. What challenges or barriers did participants encounter to remaining in band? 3. What supports or encouragements did participants encounter to remaining in band? 4. How do participants describe their decision to remain in their band program for four years or drop band during high school? This research used phenomenology to reconstruct participants' recollected experiences, develop themes, and discover the overarching essence of their experiences in high school band. Participants were adult former high school band students recruited from the Southeastern United States, particularly Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. I recruited a purposeful sample of 20 college students; 10 students who remained enrolled in band until high school graduation and 10 who elected to drop band before high school graduation. Band director colleagues responded to a social media post asking for volunteers to assist with recruiting student participants. Student participants interviewed about their lived experiences in high school band and why they remained enrolled through high school or elected to drop band. The interview recordings were transcribed verbatim using Microsoft Word and entered into ATLAS.ti 22 software to support the iterative data analysis process. Member checking of interview transcripts, peer review, and journaling ensured dependability. Following the interviews, a review of interview transcripts determined concept codes. The concept codes were then used in a phenomenological reduction to discover themes. The iterative data analysis process revealed the following themes for each RQ: motivation (RQ1), overall experience (RQ2), relationships (RQ3), and uncertainty (RQ4). All participants expressed motivation to join band because of interest, family and friends, instrument choice, or love of music (RQ1). Students who remained in band encountered the challenges for the potential of regret and time management which influenced their overall experience (RQ2). Students who received support and encouragement from a positive experience, band director connection, or community and family remained in band because of relationships (RQ3). Students who remained in band had uncertainties, but decided to stay based on enjoyment, friendships, and opportunities (RQ4). Students who left band had conflicting organizations, friend influence, stress, or problems with time (RQ4). The encompassing idea of the previously stated themes, or essence, was priorities, specifically the emphasis one places on their priorities. The four themes found in this research play a role in determining student priorities. Individuals in this study who prioritized band did not regret it; they appreciated their experience and remained in band. However, participants who did not prioritize band left the organization. Band directors can use the findings in this study to better inform their recruiting and retention strategies. These findings also express information regarding the impact of positive director student relationships.