Non-Music Major Participation in College and University Ensembles

May 1, 2021


What would it take for you to participate? is a central question with which colleges and universities that offer programs in music must engage. Music teaching and learning research largely focuses on K-12 students and on individuals who intend to become career musicians. But another important community to understand more fully consists of college students who engage in campus ensembles, but who are not majoring in music. As soon-to-be professionals in fields outside of music, their personal histories associated with music-making are important to understand because their personal values concerning music will affect their sense of its greater value to society, and are a basis for actions they take or do not take toward supporting music education for others in their families, communities, and institutions of learning. In this way, these students offer insights important for universities and colleges who are invested in creating a healthy, widely valued, and self-sustaining culture of music teaching and learning. This literature review examines the reasons for music ensemble participation by college non-music majors as well as factors that inhibit their participation. Findings show that love/enjoyment of music is the primary motivation for participation. Other factors promoting participation also include social aspects and musical background. Factors inhibiting music participation are primarily student perceptions of time commitments and conflicts, followed by perceived musical ability, declining interest, and availability of opportunity. Implications for colleges, universities, and career musicians are discussed.

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1702 Last modified on January 24, 2022