Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


School of Music

First Advisor

Wendy H. Valerio


Music agency refers to ones ability to have control over their musical actions and musical ideas. With the intent of examining music agency, the purpose of this action research study was to observe and investigate my sixth-grade students’ rhythm composition processes. The guiding research questions, regarding their music composition processes, were: (a) What did students think about making choices, and (b) How do students describe making choices?

I utilized purposive sampling that comprised the 2021-2022 St. Peter’s Catholic Elementary School sixth-grade students. I led my students through music composition activities in the role of their teacher during nine 45-minute classes. As a researcher, I observed, recorded, reflected, and analyzed data collected from our classroom during this study. My data sources included students’ handwritten reflections, students completed rhythm compositions, my personal researcher’s journal, video recordings of classes, short interviews with students, and video recordings of their completed composition. I coded and analyzed the data to search for themes.

Four themes emerged from the data. Students demonstrated music agency by choosing how to notate their rhythm compositions. Students described a variety of feelings after using their music agency. Having music agency allowed students to own their rhythm compositions. Students described how they utilized their music agency in their rhythm composition processes using action words. I provide descriptions and examples of each theme. I discuss implications for my pedagogy, the pedagogy of other music educators, and recommendations for future researchers.