Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


School of Music

First Advisor

Wendy Valerio


With the intent of improving the understanding of music learning, I investigated the processes of tonal, rhythm, melodic, and harmonic improvisation among my fourth-grade students and me. The following were the guiding research questions. 1. How did I adapt music improvisation strategies for my intact class of fourth-grade students? 2. How did those students participate in music improvisation experiences? 3. How did those students describe their music improvisation experiences? Seventeen fourth-grade students participated in this study, and I participated in this study as a participant observer. Over the course of five weeks, I taught ten 50-minute music classes, where I engaged students in a variety of improvisation activities. Data sources comprised video-recordings, student journals, my written reflections and observations, learning plans, and audio-recordings. I transcribed, coded, and analyzed the data for emergent themes. Those themes included (a) establishing an effective music-learning environment, (b) strategy adaptations to scaffold music skills, and (c) students' shared positive experiences. Additionally, I provided descriptions of individual, improvisation-learning experiences via vignettes. The improvisation teaching and learning process is a multifaceted phenomenon containing complicated emotional, social, and musical elements that still need further investigation; however, my experiences with these fourth-grade students has led me to believe that through improvisation, music educators may be able to foster creativity and self-expression while simultaneously developing students' music skills and confidence levels.

Included in

Music Commons