Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Doctor of Philosophy




Benedict, Cathy


The reproduction of traditional repertoire has been at the forefront of secondary instrumental ensembles and instrumental teacher education programs since their inception (Allsup, 2016; Apfelstadt, 2000; Hopkins, 2013; Reynolds, 2000; Talbot & Mantie, 2015). Although there are instances of non-normative learning practices and wide-ranging, diverse musics being included in secondary instrumental ensembles and instrumental teacher education programs often they are not a core curricular component. When wide-ranging, diverse musics, are included, generally, they are approached through performance from Western standard musical notation. Although musics outside the Western classical tradition may be included, students are not experiencing those musics through the informal pedagogies which are idiomatic to those genres (Folkestad, 2006; Woody, 2007). The Western classical tradition has dominated secondary and tertiary music education since its fruition and only in recent years has incremental change occurred in these spaces (Talbot & Mantie, 2015; Kaschub & Smith, 2014). The influence of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) Handbook (2020) and Sarath, Myers, & Campbell (2016) are addressed, particularly, how ambiguous language and lack of specific suggestions makes it difficult for schools of music to approach curriculum restructuring. Stakeholders (music education professors) and graduates from three universities were interviewed to learn how curricular changes were experienced. Curricular change through the experiences of stakeholders (music education professors) details difficulties faced while navigating other music faculty who oppose restructuring curriculum to include a wider breadth of musics. Graduates experienced difficulty transferring knowledge from courses which emphasized non-normative learning practices and wide-ranging, diverse musics to their current classroom practices. When graduates include other musics into their classroom, activities are fragmented, siloed which mirrors the way in which the coursework was presented within the restructured undergraduate music education curriculum.

This study suggests a need for undergraduate music education programs to continue to work to restructure curriculum where non-normative learning practices and wide-ranging, diverse musics are weaved through the curriculum. A restructuring of this matter is challenging due to lack of models available along with other music faculty who prefer tertiary music to remain within the Western classical tradition.

Summary for Lay Audience

Secondary and university instrumental music ensembles typically perform music from the Western classical tradition on string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. There have been instances of university music education programs restructuring curriculum to include wide-ranging, diverse musics, such as, popular musics or world music, but change has been incremental. In order to implement curricular changes schools of music needs approval from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). While the NASM Handbook (2020) provides information regarding accreditation, there are instances of unclear language making it difficult for schools of music to approach a curricular restructuring process. The College Music Society appointed members to The Task Force for the Undergraduate Music Major (TFUMM), where a document called “Transforming Music Study from its Foundations: A Manifesto for Progressive Change in the Undergraduate Preparation of Music Majors” was created. Sarath, Myers, and Campbell (2016) recommended undergraduate music programs utilize creativity, diversity, and integration pillars for curriculum restructuring. Even though NASM and Sarath, Myers, and Campbell (2016) have provided information regarding curricular restructuring, neither have concrete information on how to operationalize change.

In this study, music education professors from three different institutions, who were instrumental in making curricular change to include wide-ranging, diverse musics and teaching practices which accompany said music were interviewed to learn about their experiences. Difficulty arose during the curriculum restructuring process, particularly from other music faculty who were not interested in change. Nevertheless, music education professors were eventually permitted to make changes, but the changes consisted of add-on courses which did not impact other music coursework. Graduates from these institutions, who are currently teaching secondary instrumental music, were interviewed to learn how music education coursework which emphasizes wide-ranging, diverse musics has impacted their teaching practices. In most cases, graduates are including wide-ranging, diverse musics, but as add-on activities which are not at the core of their curriculum. Based on the findings, there is a need for university music education programs to continue working with other music faculty to restructure curriculum in order for wide-ranging, diverse musics to be included throughout the curriculum. This would broaden all university music students’ musical knowledges and experiences and aid in breaking a cycle of secondary and university instrumental music ensembles being primarily based on the Western classical tradition.