Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Dane Joseph, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Marc Shelton, Ed.D.


The purpose of this empirical research study was to gain knowledge about the practice habits of elementary school students in Grades 5 and 6. Sixty-five instrumental music students served as research subjects. They were enrolled in the newly established string orchestra supported by the Fairfax Elementary School District. Drawing upon my empirical experiences and instrumental music training, I identified and examined practice habits affecting motivation to learn music. Data generated from five open-ended and ten closed-ended questions were analyzed and contributed to the findings from the survey. An examination of published literature also contributed to the collection of resource data. Problems of practice were then identified in three primary areas that contributed to substandard practice habits: inconsistent or random practice time, lack of support structure, and the need for additional adult support. The results of this study provide further insight on how to better serve instrumental music students and leverage effective support systems, such as aural skills and rubrics, to improve practice habits. Students can improve their substandard practice habits by recognizing and correcting problematic areas in instrumental control, rhythm, intonation, as well as their ability to read and apply standard notation. Improvements in these areas are crucial for increasing student interest and sustaining enrollment in school music programs.