A Case Study of Individuals’ Music Preferences and Their Reported Influences on These Preferences

Open Access
Cossitor, Benjamin William
Area of Honors:
Music Education
Bachelor of Music Education
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Joanne Rutkowski, Thesis Supervisor
  • Joanne Rutkowski, Honors Advisor
  • Dr Eric Mc Kee, Faculty Reader
  • music
  • preference
  • listening
The purpose of this study was to explore reported influences on an individual’s musical preference from a case study perspective. Three students from one university in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States were selected from a pool of students enrolled in a general education music course that responded to a brief pre-screening survey. The data from the survey allowed the researcher to select individuals with varied music preferences for interviews, which led to three diverse case studies. After analyzing the transcriptions of these interviews, the researcher concluded that common themes did exist among the responses that corroborated previous research. Familiarity played one of the most important roles when deciding music preference; each subject illustrated how the music they heard as a child impacted their later music preference. In addition to these common themes, each subject had a unique story to share that fundamentally influenced the music he/she listened to. For example, one subject referred to a unique cultural experience in Nigeria that reportedly expanded his musical horizons, while another’s experiences in school caused him to listen to primarily instrumental genres. In conclusion, common themes were identified, as in previous quantitative studies, but unique factors also emerged.