Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy




Schmidt, Patrick K


The purpose of this study was to examine how and in what ways a reorientation towards sound could catalyze creative critical consciousness in high school music students and university music undergraduates. Specifically, this study sought to uncover how and in what ways sonic lifeworlds: everyday sound currents streaming in/out/through participants’ lived experiences at school, home, neighborhood, park, playground, street, alleyway, train station, cyberspace could potentially excite creative aspects of knowing and being via “cultural production” (Gaztambide-Fernández, 2011) and also elicit critical ways of thinking about and responding to the world as “cultural citizens” (Benedict & Schmidt, 2014). This study stems from the premise that “sounds are systems of educational ways of beingknowingdoing” (Gershon, 2018) and is linked to struggles around knowledge, value, control, and power, and thus consequential in learning and teaching spaces.

Scholars in the field of music education have recently rearticulated pedagogical possibilities of sound, citing creative and critical aspects that a thinking in, with and through sound may afford music teachers and their students (Abramo, 2014; Hill, 2018; Recharte, 2019; Thibeault, 2017). In this study, I engage with and extend these conversations and drawing from Hartmut Rosa’s theory of resonanz, suggest that a reorientation toward sound in music education spaces carries potential to catalyze creative critical consciousness. Using sound arts-based research (SABR) methods (Gershon, 2018), sensuous scholarship (Pink, 2009) and post-intentional phenomenology (Vagle, 2018), this qualitative research study highlights some of the ways a reorientation towards sound in music education curricula can open spaces for creativity and critical reflection about issues significant in students’ lived experiences.

Summary for Lay Audience

Can you recall the very first sounds you ever heard? Or sounds that underscored your childhood and adolescence? Or, sounds you encountered earlier this year, this month, this week, this morning a few moments ago? Where were you when these sounds occurred? How did they make you feel? What did they make you think? In what ways have they helped shape your understanding about your self, others and the world around you? And, equally significant: Why might sounds encountered in our daily trek through life matter?

The purpose of this study explored such questions and aimed to understand how and in what ways everyday sounds could be used to create original music and also to generate critical classroom conversations about students lived experiences from the things they were hearing. Participants in this study were high school music students and university music and music education undergraduates. By tuning in, what I have come to call sonic lifeworlds: everyday sound currents streaming in/out/through/across spaces and places traveled and trekked such as schools, homes, neighborhoods, parks, playgrounds, streets, alleyways, train stations and cyberspaces, participants composed 25 original soundpieces, connected sounds they were hearing in their real and virtual worlds to significant and current societal issues and realized that sound is often an overlooked and ‘unheard’ aspect in their day to day life.

The study was built upon a premise that sounds provide valuable information and help us in shaping our understanding about our self in relationship to others and the world. By opening their ears to everyday sounds, generally not considered music, participants in this study expanded their conceptions about what music can be, who gets to make music and how music and sound can work together to help them hear and respond to the world.


Correction in reference style