Date of Award

August 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Shelia J Feay-Shaw


Business, Design Thinking, Entrepreneurial Mindset, Entrepreneurship, Music Business, Performing Arts


The purpose of this research study was to investigate the implementation of design thinking andan entrepreneurial mindset into a collegiate music classroom, where students have an interest in applying business acumen and entrepreneurship to their future plans as teaching and performing artists. The following questions guided this study: 1) are there benefits to introducing design thinking and the entrepreneurial mindset to music students as they transition from student to professional?; 2) will the addition of these approaches give students greater confidence as arts entrepreneurs?; 3) how can design thinking and the entrepreneurial mindset methodologies be successfully introduced and practiced throughout a one-semester course?; and 4) will students find these methodologies applicable to their entrepreneurial journey as performing and teaching artists? This qualitative study included two participant groups from the Business for Performing Artist class: in Spring 2021 which did not include design thinking, and from Spring 2023 that included the implementation of design thinking. Three Qualtrics surveys were conducted in Spring 2023 to follow participants’ understanding and growth of design thinking and entrepreneurship across the semester long course. An additional survey was given to participants from Spring 2021 as a follow-up to their experiences during the course and after graduation. Reflections of the researcher who facilitated the course were also included in the final results of the study. The data from the surveys and course materials showed that students were not able to connect with the practice of design thinking and the entrepreneurial mindset with a fifteen-week course also dedicated to other business practices needed by young, performing artists. Study participants left with only a surface level understanding of design thinking and the entrepreneurial mindset, yet they were able to define the methodologies. With more time and practice implementing the methodologies in practical settings, participants would have the opportunity to put the methodologies into practice and see how they could apply to future projects and career endeavors. It also leaves room for continued research on the implementation of design thinking or the entrepreneurial mindset into both the collegiate music classroom and other performing arts spaces.