Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


School of Music

Committee Chair

Janet Robbins

Committee Co-Chair

David Bess

Committee Member

Travis Stimeling

Committee Member

Michael Vercelli


The primary purpose of this ethnographic study is to examine the values and meaning children ascribe to learning world music in an elementary school general music program. This research seeks to explore the potential of world music pedagogies for deepening children's understanding of music and its sociocultural context more completely. The participants in this study included fourth-grade students and their music teacher who designed and taught a Music-Culture Curricular Unit on Afro-Brazilian traditions. Data include field notes of music classes collected during seven weeks of observations, focus group and individual interviews with fourth-grade students, audio and video recordings, conversations with the music teacher, documents, and a researcher journal. Children's voices come alive in interview excerpts and narrative descriptions of the music classes. For the children in this study learning world music meant (a) discovering new sonic features, (b) engaging with language and history, and (c) connecting to the world. The values children ascribed to learning world music were (a) making music together, (b) learning about the sonic features of music, and (c) learning about the cultural context of the music. A deeper understanding of the values and meaning children ascribe to music has the potential to promote a holistic music education that features musicianship, creative thinking, and knowledge of history and culture.