Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

David Ferguson, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Kevin Eisensmith, DMA

Third Advisor

Laura Ferguson, Ed.D.


This study determines factors that impact small, rural school instrumental music program enrollments. Fourteen school districts in the Somerset and Cambria counties of Pennsylvania, classified as A by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) were targeted for study. Questionnaires were used to collect data from 15 directors, and 3 directors from this pool were interviewed. Survey results indicate the following stated hindrances to student retention: Scheduling (33%), competing after-school activities (27%), and preparation for state standardized testing (20%). Most directors utilize extrinsic motivators to boost student retention, with band trips (47%) being the most frequently mentioned. Interviews revealed intrinsic motivators, such as multi-age student involvement, popular music, and successful music experiences. The following themes were presented as impediments to retention: Time allotted for music lessons, interference with standardized test preparation, and budgetary issues. Other factors affecting retention may be: director personality, teacher-student trust, and clear program guidelines.