Education, Music, and the Lives of Undergraduates
Collegiate A Cappella and the Pursuit of Happiness
The undergraduate years are a special time of life for many students. They are a time for study, yes, but also a time for making independent decisions over what to do beyond formal education. This book is based on a nine-year study of collegiate a cappella - a socio-musical practice that has exploded on college campuses since the 1990s. A defining feature of collegiate a cappella is that it is a student-run leisure activity undertaken by undergraduate students at institutions both large and small, prestigious and lower-status. With rare exceptions, participants are not music majors yet many participants interviewed had previous musical experience both in and out of school settings. Motivations for staying musically involved varied considerably - from those who felt they could not imagine life without a musical outlet to those who joined on a whim. Collegiate a cappella is about much more than singing cover songs. It sustains multiple forms of inequality through its audition practices and its performative enactment of gender and heteronormativity. This book sheds light on how undergraduates conceptualize vocation and avocation within the context of formal education, holding implications for educators at all levels.