Julia Turner

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


School of Music

First Advisor

Wendy H. Valerio


I facilitated “Fourth-Grade and Fifth-Grade Cover-Band Classes,” a popular music education-, informal music learning-, and music learning theory-inspired action-research project. The purpose of this action-research project was to examine the facilitation and learning processes used by my students and me when engaged with those music learning approaches and theory. The guiding questions for this study included: 1) How do I use and adapt principles from modern band (2023), Green (2008; 2014), and Gordon (2012; 2013) to prepare my facilitation of a popular music project for my fourth-grade and fifth-grade students? and 2) How do my fourth-grade and fifth-grade students engage in the popular music project I facilitate using and adapting principles from modern band (2023), Green (2008; 2014), and Gordon (2012; 2013)?

I used a qualitative action research design because I served as both music facilitator and researcher. Students in each class submitted song suggestions and voted on a song to cover. The fifth-grade students chose to cover “Beat It” by Michael Jackson (1982) and the fourth-grade students chose to cover “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley (1987). Students chose their performance roles and which instruments they played. Students learned, rehearsed, and recorded “Beat It” or “Never Gonna Give You Up” over six class periods using aural learning, facilitator direction, and peer modeling. My first round coding processes included In Vivo coding and Protocol coding, and I utilized Focused coding as the second round coding process (Saldaña, 2016).

I identified four emergent primary themes. As music facilitator, I engaged in a cycle of planning, facilitating, reflecting, and goal-setting. Students used connections to a) family, b) extramusical experiences, and c) popular culture and media to choose songs. Students and I communicated with each other similarly and differently using varieties of music notation, tonal solfege and rhythm solfege, and the song recordings. Students expressed their musical identities through agency and music creativity.

Through my data coding and analysis, I determined that my students and I established a music learning culture (Arrasmith, 2022; Driscoll, 2014; Hubbell, 2016; McNair, 2010) developed by integrating practices derived from Gordon’s (2012) music learning theory with Green’s (2008) informal music learning and modern band (2022) approaches. The students and I collaboratively developed this music learning culture that was relevant to the students and provided opportunities for student agency and music creativity.


© 2023, Julia Turner