Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Ruth Wright


This study investigated the perceptions of secondary level music educators representing 20 English public Ontario school boards using a qualitative-dominant mixed-methods design combining large-scale data collection from an online survey (phase one) with more in-depth follow-up interviews (phase two). In both phases, music teachers offered their perceptions of music education programs (curricular and extra-curricular) in their schools and across the province concerning music enrolment trends, music course offerings, extra-curricular music activities, the factors facilitating and/or impeding positive change in music programs, and possible solutions to problems facing music education in Ontario public schools.

This study employed a grounded theory approach in order to ascertain the authentic viewpoints of the participants with minimal direction from the researcher. Two key themes emerged: first, music teachers expressed apprehension regarding the increasingly hierarchical business model of Ontario’s education system (power above); second, the perceived decline of elementary music education in the province is viewed by participants as having a detrimental impact on secondary level music education (power below). Both of these issues are compounded by the perceived lack of control expressed by music educators in the implementation of solutions to these problems (power within).

The resulting model is informed by business and education literature (including New Public Management models and Kanter’s Structural Theory of Organizational Behavior) to represent teacher perceptions of employee empowerment and professional capital. The findings of this research and theoretical model generated may contribute to positive change through a better understanding of the state of music education in Ontario.