Date of Award

Winter 2023


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Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Music (MA)




This narrative case study examines the perceptions of three professional musicians on the impact of focused aural experiences (FAEs) in developing their musicianship. The participants include a professional instrumental performer, the director of a non-profit jazz school, and a retired high school band teacher. Each participant has engaged in performing, teaching, composing, arranging, and/or conducting in some capacity at various stages of their careers. The research explores the roles that focused aural experiences may have had in shaping each individual’s musical development by examining their perceptions of the impacts of such experiences on their overall musicianship. Focused aural experiences (FAEs) are defined here as any formal or informal activities in which the individual learned music by ear, learned to play an instrument by ear, or listened to music with focused intent. Relevant formal activities might include taking formal aural training classes in a school setting, transcribing, and playing music by ear, and studying orchestration or composition through aural transcription. For the purposes of this study, focused aural experiences will be specifically differentiated from musical engagements where notation is more emphasized such as performing music through score reading, sight reading, score analysis, or notation-based music theory. This study aims to provide a perspective on the complex experiences that shape musical development specifically through the lens of FAEs, describe the nature of those experiences, and offer another pathway towards understanding the nature of music learning, the development of musicianship, and notions about the multidimensional nature of talent and ability.