Kelly-McHale, Jacqueline

The Relationship Between Children’s Musical Identities and Music Teacher Beliefs and Practices in an Elementary General Music Classroom

The purpose of this study was to examine the ways an elementary general music teacher’s curricular beliefs and practices influence the expression of Music in Identity and Identity in Music for second-generation students. A qualitative collective case study design was used to examine four students whose families immigrated to the United States from Mexico, and their music teacher in a midwestern suburban school within the United States. This study sought to better understand the interaction between the role of music instruction, cultural responsiveness, and musical identity. Within case and cross case analysis generated specific and broad themes that addressed the purpose of the study.

The study revealed that the role of the teacher’s view of the self as musician and educator, combined with the choice of instructional approach, created a music classroom environment that successfully met the teacher directed goals for instruction through sequence-centered instruction. Outside of the music classroom, media and technology influenced the use of music in the negotiation of ethnic and youth identity. Additionally, the general music experience enabled the students to become fluent in the tools of notational literacy, and taught the students to use their voices as musical instruments, thereby developing a high level of singing proficiency. Nonetheless, the data revealed that that the choice of instructional approach resulted in an isolated musical experience that did not support the integration of cultural, linguistic, and popular music experiences, and largely ignored issues of cultural responsiveness.

The findings support the development of school music experiences that are not typically a part of the school music domain. By legitimizing the musical roles of students and their families, general music classrooms can become places where borders between settings become transparent and students are musically inspired.

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