A Mixed Methods Portrait of Urban Instrumental Music Teaching
The purpose of this mixed methods study was to learn about the ways that instrumental music teachers in Chicago navigate the urban landscape. The design of the study most closely resembles Creswell and Plano Clark’s (2007) two-part Triangulation Convergence Mixed Methods Design, with the addition of an initial exploratory focus group component. Phase 1 of the study included a focus group composed of urban instrumental music teachers ( N = 7) that informed the development of the survey questionnaire. Phase 2 of the study involved a survey of instrumental music teachers in the Chicago Public Schools ( N = 90). Phase 3 of this study was based on interviews with and observations of 4 selected instrumental music teachers within the Chicago Public Schools. The reason for collecting both quantitative and qualitative data was to corroborate results and paint a more comprehensive portrait of urban instrumental music teaching.
Research questions focused on the contextual knowledge that teachers hold regarding their students and communities, the specialized skills they rely upon to be successful, the attitudes and beliefs they hold towards teaching instrumental music in an urban school, and the challenges and rewards that they perceive from teaching in this context. Of the 22 instances where quantitative and qualitative data aligned to address the same phenomenon, there were 11 instances where the methods confirmed one another, 1 instance where the methods contradicted one another, 4 instances where the data provided mixed convergence, and 6 categories where the methods did not directly confirm or contradict one another but rather enhanced the general understanding of the phenomenon. The results suggest that instrumental music teachers utilize their knowledge of the urban context to modify their general pedagogical approach, that they believe a specialized set of skills is required for success in the urban context, that they have relatively positive levels of job satisfaction and believe strongly in the development of their students’ potential, and that they face serious challenges to the success of their programs but also perceive great reward from the personal and musical improvement of their students.