Music making lives: Score and setting in the musical experiences of high school students

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This eclectic qualitative study examines the experiences of six musically engaged high school students who go to Arts High, an arts magnet school in California. Over the course of the 2003-2004 school year, the author observed and interviewed these students in multiple settings where music was made and learned, from school classes and ensembles to youth orchestras and performances in bars.
A central distinction emerged between score-centered and setting-centered musical practices. Score-centered practices organize musical experiences around a musical work with a largely fixed identity, as epitomized by written sheet music. Setting-centered practices, by contrast, organize musical experiences around the musicians and context, allowing the musical work to be changed depending on the particulars (number of performers, their abilities, shared repertoire, the audience and venue, etc.).
Score and setting are examined as they exist in rehearsals, concerts, and in the views and values of the students who participate in them. Score-centered work is found from small chamber to large orchestra rehearsals, and setting-centered work is found from garage bands to Bluegrass jam sessions and the Jazz band.
The study concludes with a conceptual vision for music education that embraces both score and setting-centered practices for the opportunities they offer students. It identifies a central opportunity in rethinking teachers' conceptions of music through historical and cultural presentations of music that had a balance of score and setting. This vision might allow for musicians who have greater options for growth and a better chance to meet the call for creative music education as called for throughout the music education profession. Copyright © 2007 by Matthew D. Thibeault. All right reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007


Thibeault, M. D. (2007). Music making lives: Score and setting in the musical experiences of high school students. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University, United States.


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