Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Clint Randles


Adolescence, iPod, MP3 Player, Music Appreciation, Phenomenology, Technology


Since the introduction of the iPod in 2001, portable music listening devices that play or stream compressed music files have steadily become the standard devices used to listen to music. Despite this, few music education researchers have investigated the role that such devices have in shaping students' music listening experiences. This dissertation is meant to fill that gap in the literature and contribute to the existing sociological and psychological literature on music listening in everyday life.

Phenomenology served as the theoretical framework for the design of the study. 10 college students from three institutions underwent iterative interviews and were asked questions developed from McCarthy and Wright's (2004) Deweyan method for investigating user experiences with technology. The questions fell into five categories: sensual, emotional, compositional, spatio-temporal, and the sense-maker. The participants' responses were digitally recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using grounded theory methods. The following four axial codes emerged from the data and were used to divide the dissertation into chapters: "Embodying the Experience," "Organizing the Experience," "Navigating Real and Virtual Spaces," and "Developing the Self."

The main finding articulated in the chapter entitled "Embodying the Experience" is that the participants located the music in their heads while listening to music on their devices using headphones or earbuds. In contrast, participants consistently reported that, when listening to music through open-air speakers, they experienced the music as being located everywhere or in their whole bodies.

The main finding in the chapter entitled, "Organizing the Experience," is that participants exercised agency in their music listening experience by creating playlists. Typically, playlists were created by the participants to be used in conjunction with other activities such as exercising, studying, commuting, and so forth. I used these findings to develop the concept of "Integration in Consciousness" which models the participants' simultaneous engagement with the music and other activities.

In the chapter entitled "Navigating Real and Virtual Spaces," I explore how the participants simultaneously navigated the spatial aspects of the music listened to on their players and the spatial aspects of the physical spaces within which their activities naturally occurred. In doing so, I provide an example of how the participants experienced music and activities as "Integrated in Consciousness."

In chapter seven, "Developing the Self," I explore how the participants' uses of their devices reflect their development as adolescents. In addition, I propose that participants' uses of their devices may be constitutive of their adolescent development.

Finally, in chapter eight, I explore the ways in which music teachers can utilize the findings of this study in the development of their own classroom pedagogies. Among other things, I propose that music teachers can use the "Integration in Consciousness" model to help their students communicate about their music listening experiences in the classroom. In the use of this model, music teachers can tailor their pedagogies specifically for the technology rich, "post-performance" world within which they teach.