Instrumental music education in rural North Carolina: a descriptive study

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Melody C. Causby (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jennifer Stewart Walter

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate secondary instrumental music education in rural North Carolina. In this descriptive study, the experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions that rural instrumental music educators held about their schools, students, and communities were investigated. Furthermore, the researcher examined how rural secondary instrumental music educators defined success for their programs, what challenges and rewards they experienced in their positions, and what skills from a pre-determined list (Fitzpatrick, 2008) they considered to be most important in their classrooms. The survey used for the current descriptive study was a modification of the quantitative survey used in Fitzpatrick’s (2008) study, A Mixed Methods Portrait of Urban Instrumental Music Teaching. Four research questions were included in the study: (1) What contextual knowledge do rural instrumental music teachers hold about the students they teach and the communities in which they teach?; (2) What specialized skills do rural teachers rely upon to be successful within this setting?; (3) What attitudes and beliefs do teachers hold towards teaching instrumental music in rural schools?; and (4) What challenges and rewards do instrumental music teachers perceive from teaching instrumental music in a rural environment? Data were collected in the current study across three phases. The modification of the survey used by Fitzpatrick (2008) was reviewed by a focus group of North Carolina secondary instrumental rural teachers during Phase 1. Focus group participants provided feedback on the content and structure of the drafted survey. This feedback was used to further modify the survey before Phase 2. In Phase 2, a pilot group of secondary rural instrumental music educators in Georgia, completed the modified survey and suggested further improvements. Further modifications were made to the survey before Phase 3: Survey Administration. A Cronbach’s Alpha measure of internal consistency was calculated to establish reliability of the survey instrument. A raw alpha score of .88 and a standardized alpha score of .90 were found, indicating a high level of internal consistency. The survey instrument was considered valid because it was a modification of Fitzpatrick’s (2008) valid survey tool, which was presented to a focus group, modified, presented to a pilot group, then modified again for further content validity. The results for research question one revealed that rural music students were typically of a low socioeconomic status and primarily Caucasian. In research question two, participants believed skills related to developing relationships with students and advocating for their programs were more important than those related to music when given a specific set of skills from which to choose. For research question three, rural secondary instrumental music educators reported moderately high levels of job satisfaction and success. In general, they reported that their students were intelligent, well behaved, and musically talented. In addition, teachers conveyed that indicators of success in their program were associated with student growth and experiences more so than their musical performance abilities. Finally, participants indicated that their three greatest challenges were lack of support, limited funding or resources, and limited student involvement. Their three greatest rewards were having musical experiences with students, witnessing students’ musical growth, and witnessing students’ personal growth. A discussion of the implications for music education and music teacher education along with recommendations for future research are presented.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Instrumental, Music Education, North Carolina, Rural
Instrumental music $x Instruction and study $z North Carolina
Education, Rural $z North Carolina

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