Adult perceptions of participating in high school orchestra and its influence on life skills
Lewis, Darin John
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The purpose of this study was to examine adults’ perceptions of how extramusical knowledge and skills they learned in high school orchestra have transferred to their adult lives. Barnett and Ceci’s (2002) taxonomy served as a model for studying the perceived impact of orchestral participation on life skill development and transfer to adulthood. Eight former high school orchestra students participated in an in-depth, standardized, open-ended interview of approximately 90 minutes in length. Each participant reflected on their orchestral experience and responded to specific questions pertaining to what extramusical skills they might have developed and what knowledge and skills they perceived to have used as adults. Data analysis revealed that participants perceived participation in orchestra as valuable. In particular, participants’ perceptions suggested that involvement in high school orchestra helped them develop life skills that they employed as adults. Results were organized according to a life skills framework established by the World Health Organization (1994). The participants perceived that effective communication, interpersonal skills, coping with stress, and teamwork were skills that were developed through participation in orchestra. Several other skills, including leadership, multitasking abilities, and taking responsibility, found moderate support among the participants. The participants did not regard the skills of critical and creative thinking as being developed through participation. The majority of participants cited effective communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, and coping with stress as the chief skills that transferred from participating in high school orchestra. These findings are discussed in light of the current literature and suggestions for further research are presented.