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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An ethnography of secondary school student composition in music : a study of personal involvement within the compositional process Tsisserev, Alex


This study deals primarily with the way secondaryschool students use music to express their personal, inner feelings through composition. Because the topic of personal expression through music composition is an elusive one, my methodology borrows and combines analytical tools from the fields of phenomenology, hermeneutics, semiotics, ethnography and English language arts, and incorporates these tools in the exploration of student's processes, of self-expression through music composition. For a period of several weeks I worked with a sixteen-student sample group,in a Vancouver high school. Each of the students handed in a musical composition. Four of the students granted me interviews in which they shared their views of their compositional processes and the resulting musical works. By the conclusion of the study, the students had displayed the ability to communicate certain ideas, images and emotions, and express themselves by articulating their own unique sense of being through their musical compositions. Furthermore, the students demonstrated a level of musical awareness which has very little to do with the type of proficiency-based music learning that is prevalent in many of today's music education classrooms. Most importantly, however, this study spawns a methodology which examines students' compositional processes rather than their finished musical products.

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