TubaChristmas in Grand Rapids: An Intergenerational Community Music Event

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University of Michigan

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United States



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The purpose of this study was to examine the 2022 Grand Rapids TubaChristmas event as an intergenerational community music-making opportunity. Research questions for this study included (1) How do musician participants in TubaChristmas describe their experiences in an annual intergenerational community ensemble? (2) How do audience participants perceive and experience the event? (3) What meanings do musician participants draw from their experiences in TubaChristmas? and (4) What elements of the TubaChristmas event provide perceived benefits to musician participants, and what elements provide challenges? Data included observation of the event, individual interviews with musician participants, survey of audience and musician participants, and documents collected from the event and from prior events. Analysis involved coding and categorizing observational data, survey results, and transcripts of individual interviews into themes as related to the research questions. The findings from this study showed that musician participants described the event as an enjoyable, inclusive musical experience that builds community. Audience participants described it as a fun musical tradition centered on connecting with family. Musicians drew meaning from TubaChristmas through sustaining a tradition, community building, intergenerational connections, uplifting tuba culture, and uplifting others. Finally, musician participants perceived musical, communal, and social benefits from the event, while experiencing challenges such as venue, tuba/euphonium needs, and elements of unpredictability.