Toward more Inclusive, Responsive Music Instruction: Collaborating with Practicing Teachers


Karen K. Salvador, University of Michigan, Flint

Allison M. Paetz, Rocky River Schools, OH

Matthew Tippets, Orem High School, UT


In MUS 8XX, we encountered gaps between music education theory and practice, specifically regarding honoring the identities of music students and addressing issues faced by marginalized populations. In final projects, many students (all practicing teachers) indicated resolve to reflect on and even change their own practices. This study explored the experience and aftermath of MUS 8XX, beginning with the question: What andragogical processes provoked exploration, resulted in discovery, or even encouraged activism toward more inclusive, culturally responsive music instruction?


Participants were graduate students (N=26) and the facilitator from a 3-credit philosophy of music education seminar. These 17 women and 9 men from eleven states had 1-17 years of experience teaching general music, choir, band, orchestra, and other classes. We used comprehensive sampling (Roulston, 2010), resulting in 22 participants (85%). Two students and the facilitator acted as co-researchers.


We used a social constructionist approach to grounded theory as a theoretical frame to situate our research and also as a set of strategies for generating and examining data (Charmaz, 2008, p. 401). This approach assumes the "research process emerges from interaction; it takes into account the researcher’s [and participants’] positionality… [and] the researcher and researched co-construct the data—data are a product of the research process, not simply observed objects of it” (Charmaz, 2008, p. 402). Thus, social constructionism allowed us to build on relationships that formed during MUS 8XX to have conversations about the course experience and its aftermath.


Data Generation and Analysis. Our method and the data were reflexively interdependent and interconnected rather than separate entities (Mauthner & Doucet, 2003). Therefore, we began by examining course artifacts (essays, course evaluations, readings list, syllabus), writing positionality statements, and then generating interview topics/queries. We kept memos on our biweekly researcher conversations and generated analysis memos throughout the research process.


Interview Process. Five months after MUS 8XX, we conducted 45-60 minute interviews. Using guiding questions and emergent follow-up, interviewers sought to illuminate the shared experience of MUS 8XX and explore its aftermath in a conversation that “…challenge[d] former and current understandings” (Roulston, 2010). The interviewer immediately reflected on each interview experience, and when each member-checked transcript was returned, the interviewer reflected again on a two-column reflexivity sheet.


Data Analysis. We constantly compared data as we co-constructed it, seeking for the emergent, contextual “whys” and “hows” of change in practicing music teachers. This process included line-by-line coding, axial coding, and memo-writing as we cycled in and out of data generation and analysis. We collapsed codes into themes that influenced analysis of new data—and also led us to revisit existing data. Throughout this process we each suggested categories, links to subcategories, and exemplars.


Results. The framework for change in practicing teachers included (1) Being “forced” to examine and articulate beliefs, values and feelings (2) Grappling with challenging information and explicitly relating it to personal practices and observations (3) Seminar atmosphere balancing safety and discomfort. (4) Relationships. (5) Emotional experiences. (6) Being vulnerable. (7) Viewing social justice as a process toward becoming more inclusive and responsive.




Charmaz, K. (2008). Constructionism and the grounded theory method. In J. A. Holstein & J. F. Gubrium (Eds.), Handbook of constructionist research, (pp. 397-412). New York: The Guilford Press.

Mauthner, N. S., & Doucet, A. (2003). Reflexive accounts and accounts of reflexivity in qualitative data analysis. Sociology, 37(3), 413-431.

Roulston, K. (2010). Reflective interviewing: A guide to theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.