This empirical study investigates Chinese studentspopular music preferences in daily life and to what extent and in what ways they prefer learning popular music in school in Shanghai, China. Data were drawn from questionnaires completed by 1,730 secondary students (aged 12-17) and interviews with 60 students from 10 secondary schools, between September and October, 2011. Findings from these efforts were supplemented by and triangulated with data from interviews with 18 music teachers and school leaders. Findings revealed the cultural diversification and rational consumption of popular music by Chinese students in and out of school, as well as the cultural dilemmas those students confront due to their preferences for popular (Chinese and non-Chinese) and classical music in the school music curriculum. These findings can be interpreted as indicating that music and music education in formal or informal settings are complex cultural constructs that can be reinvented through the intertwined interplay of different actors concerned with the selection of music elements in a multileveled, multicultural world.
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