Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy




Schmidt, Patrick


This integrated-article dissertation explores the multiple ways in which music teachers, community facilitators, and students engage in music teaching and learning in social contexts prone to change due to human mobility. Drawing upon Bauman’s sociological understanding of modern societies as liquid and the larger implications of processes of human mobility in schools and communities, this research focuses on exploring music education as it happens within an increasingly diversifying Canadian society.

In the first article, a philosophical research study, I conceptualize the notion of coping with discomfort as a form of response possibly experienced by music teachers. Here, I draw from psychological understandings of coping and a Foucauldian understanding of discomfort to view coping mechanisms as a form of pedagogy that may help or hinder music teachers in their responses to newcomer students in the music classroom. The second article, a multiple case study, uses and expands this framework to analyze the current pedagogies, reflective practices and adaptive processes experienced by two school music teachers working in highly diversifying school settings. The third article, an autoethnography, sets the investigative parameters of my own experiences teaching music at the Youth Music Program (YMP), a program of music education developed for newcomer children and youth in partnership with two community centres that provide settlement services in Canada. Finally, in the fourth article, I focus solely on the perspectives and experiences of newcomer youth and outline their understandings during and after their participation at the YMP.

The findings from all these articles draw attention to the nuances of individual perceptions, assumptions and preconceptions that guide actions. I emphasize the relevance of reflective practices in the processes of adaptation that may be experienced by music teachers and facilitators when engaging with the multiplicities of their students, and the importance of considering the particularities of developing more complex understandings of pedagogy and processes of reflection and adaptation.

Summary for Lay Audience

My research focuses on observing and providing understandings of what is currently happening in music education within diversifying Canadian communities. In four articles, I studied how music teachers, facilitators, and students interacted with one another through music education. I focused on studying schools and communities that were receiving large populations of immigrant and refugee backgrounds. Using the metaphor of water that is naturally fast-flowing and moving continuously, as in rivers, I explain how these communities have and continue to change.

In the first article, I viewed coping as a psychological process that helps individuals act in particular ways, and discomfort as an emotion that may help individuals to interrogate their own thoughts and actions. I then established the concept of coping with discomfort, suggesting a process that may help music teachers to be more responsive to changes in population in their communities. In the second article, I analyzed how two music teachers reflected on their teaching practices, and what their adaptive processes were while they were working in schools with a highly diverse population. In the third article, I narrated my experiences teaching music with young newcomers at the Youth Music Program (YMP), a program implemented in two community centres that provide settlement services in Canada. Finally, in the fourth article, I studied the perspectives, experiences and understandings of the students who participated at the YMP. I explained and narrated how their experiences with immigration were relevant or not to music education and placed their musical learning as an example of adaptation.

Findings from these articles helped me suggest that thinking deeply about past and present events may support more intricate adaptive processes; that teachers and facilitators working in societies which are changing due to increasing immigration need to interrogate themselves about their perceptions, assumptions, and preconceptions to engage with newcomers in more meaningful ways, and that understanding how, for what end, and for whom they teach may bring about more complex understandings of what it means to teach, to reflect, and to adapt to societies that are continuously changing.