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Music Education at the
Tipping Point
By John Kratus
In his classic comedy Annie Hall, film-
maker Woody Allen remarks that rela-
tionships are like sharks: they have to
keep moving forward or they die. The
same could be said of a number of
things, including music education. History
shows that American music educators have
been most successful and their positions
most secure when they satisfied the prevail-
ing musical desires of the public. Singing
schools in the late nineteenth century and
the band movement in the mid-twentieth
century are unmistakable examples of music
education fulfilling changing societal needs.
Conversely, music education has suffered
when it has been perceived as culturally irrel-
evant and unnecessary. History also tells us
that the public’s experience of music does not
stand still: it keeps moving forward. For
music education to remain relevant and pro-
vide value, it too must change with the times
or experience the fate of the stationary shark.
To comprehend the changes occurring in
music and their impact on music education,
it is necessary to understand the dynamics of
social change, which is the topic of the influ-
ential, best-selling book The Tipping Point:
How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference,
by Malcolm Gladwell.1Gladwell’s thesis is
that small changes and events can accumu-
late and cause rapid, large-scale transforma-
tions once a critical mass, or tipping point,
has been reached. Gladwell employs his the-
ory to explain such disparate events as the
explosive growth of e-mail as a means of
communication to the dramatic decrease in
New York City’s crime rate in the 1990s.
We are undoubtedly living in a period of
rapid cultural and social change. We are also
witnessing a dramatic transformation in the
ways people experience music and the prac-
tices used to educate children. Is music edu-
cation keeping pace with these changes? Can
Gladwell’s thesis be applied constructively to
music education?
The Dynamics of Change
Gladwell writes that change begins with a
few people, whom he calls mavens, doing
something different. These people possess a
vision and passion, as did, for example, the
early adopters of personal computers.2The
ideas of mavens are spread to a broader group
of people by connectors, who are acquainted
with both mavens and people outside of the
mavens’ community.3Eventually, salesmen
promote the ideas by putting them into con-
texts that others can understand.4To ensure
mass appeal, some characteristics of the ideas
should be memorable or potent enough to
have a “stickiness factor” that captures the
public’s imagination.5
Music education
must find ways
to both keep
up with the
changing musical
culture and
preserve the best
of our musical
John Kratus is a professor of music education at Michigan State University, East Lansing. He
can be reached at The author would like to thank Patrick Freer for his gen-
erous and thoughtful editing of this paper.
Centennial Series
At this point, something that once existed
in isolation is spread rapidly. This adoption
can add something to the culture, as in the
widespread acceptance of e-mail as a means
of communication, or it can take something
away, as in the elimination of Latin as a stan-
dard school subject.
The prevailing social and physical climate
must be ripe to allow change to occur, and in
this context appearances matter. For exam-
ple, the dramatic drop in crime that New
York City experienced in the late 1980s and
’90s can be attributed not to changes in
demographics or law enforcement, but to a
strenuous effort to remove graffiti and other
signs of lawlessness from public places. The
theory is that the physical signs of disorder
invited an epidemic of crime by signaling its
permissiveness, and that changing the envi-
ronment reversed the epidemic. Similarly,
Latin was eliminated from most high school
curricula when conditions were right and it
became “permissible” to do so, because there
was little clamor among the general popula-
tion for continuing Latin as a standard school
subject. Latin had for centuries been a part of
a classical education. Whatever arguments
were once used to support Latin in the cur-
riculum (e.g., learning Latin enhances logical
thinking and intellectual discipline) lost cre-
dence in a world of rapidly changing priorities.
Perilous Times for Music Education
Now let us look at an example of rapid
change in music education. In September
2004, the Music for All Foundation, an advo-
cacy organization, produced a report on the
status of music education in California pub-
lic schools using 1999–2004 data from the
California Department of Education.6The
findings of the report were striking:
IDuring a period when the total
California public school student population
increased by 5.8 percent, the percentage of all
California public school students involved in
music education courses fell by 50 percent.
IThis decline represents a loss 512,366
students and was the largest of any academic
subject area by a factor of four. (Physical edu-
cation was second with a decline of 125,000
students, representing a drop of 5.2 percent
of the total PE enrollment.)
IThere were 1,053 fewer music teachers,
a decline of 26.7 percent.7
Keep in mind that these changes occurred
during just a five-year period. This rapid,
dramatic change signifies that a tipping point
had been reached for the viability of music
education in California’s public schools. It
became “permissible” for one district after
another to curtail or trim music programs,
and the cumulative effect was catastrophic.
The authors of the California study inter-
viewed educators and policy makers to try to
understand the underlying causes for the
decrease. Those interviewed emphasized the
same two root causes: the focus on reading
and mathematics of the No Child Left Behind
Act (NCLB) resulted in a shift of funding
away from subjects such as music, and
California’s budget crisis restricted funding to
public schools, leading to a reduction in
funding for music education.
This band parade at the state music convention in Greenwich,
Connecticut, in May 1946 was characteristic of the band movement of
the mid-twentieth century—one example of how music education
has at times fulfilled changing societal needs.
Photo courtesy of MENC Archives
Yet the report’s authors rejected
these explanations. Regarding the
NCLB rationale, the authors noted
that “music programs have been limit-
ed in a manner vastly disproportionate
to other curricula. At a minimum,
therefore, other forces must have been
at work.”8The authors similarly
argued against blaming the state’s
budget crisis. If the budget cuts were
the cause of music education’s decline,
why were other subjects, including
other elective subjects, not equally
affected? What were the “other forces”
at work?
This brings us to another possible
explanation: that during times of fiscal
uncertainty, the arts in education is
perceived as less valuable than other,
more pragmatic subjects that provide
skills directly related to the workforce.
One can therefore assume that student
participation in music would rise
again along with an upturn in the
economy. Unfortunately, enrollment
in California music classes did not
improve, even after the 2001–2002
economic downturn ended.
Futhermore, negative public opin-
ion cannot be to blame for cuts in
music education, because a large
majority of the American public sup-
ports arts education, at least in princi-
ple. A Harris Poll released in June
2005 found that 93 percent of
Americans agree that the arts are vital
to providing a well-rounded education
for children. Also, 54 percent rated the
importance of arts education a 10 on a
scale of 1 to 10.9
But what kind of arts education
does the public support? Turning to
the California enrollment data, during
the five-year period that participation
in school music programs dropped by
half, student participation actually
increased in art, drama, and dance
classes.10 It was not the arts in general
that suffered; it was music alone. And
students were not leaving music class-
es to take more pragmatic courses like
computer studies; enrollment in com-
puter education in California de-
creased by 0.7 percent.11
There are signs that music educa-
tion is at a tipping point elsewhere.
The status of music education in
Canada is also troubling. A May 2005
report conducted for the Coalition for
Music Education in Canada found
that 20 percent of the music programs
in Quebec and 21 percent of the music
programs in Ontario had experienced
declining enrollments in the past two
to three years.12 Furthermore, funding
for music education had decreased
during this period in one-third of
Canadian high schools. According to
the report, many Canadian music edu-
cators viewed the situation as a conse-
quence of deteriorating or nonexistent
standards for music teachers. Fully
one-half of the schools surveyed
employed at least one music teacher
who did not possess a provincial
teaching certificate in music, sapping
the professionalism of the teaching
The picture does not brighten with
a look toward the future. A recent
study by the Council for Basic
Education suggests that instructional
time for music and the arts will be fur-
ther squeezed in the coming years.13
Of one thousand principals surveyed
in Indiana, Maryland, New Mexico,
and New York, one-third anticipated
further decreases in instructional time
for the arts, while just 7 percent antic-
ipated increases. The situation was
worse in schools with large minority
populations, in which 42 percent of
the principals anticipated that less
time would be allocated for the arts in
the near future.
What is going on here?
Conventional wisdom holds that
recent declines in music education are
the direct (and simple) result of inad-
equate school funding and mandatory
testing. This view is not supported by
the evidence. Furthermore, public
support for arts education is quite
strong. School funding crises and
NCLB have likely contributed to
music education’s difficulties, but
these factors alone do not explain the
disproportionate hit that music has
taken when compared to other school
subjects. Conditions had to be ripe for
economic and political changes to
bring music education to this point.
Causes and Effects
Obviously music education has not
tipped everywhere. There are thriving
music programs in some schools, and
these programs can serve as models
for the future. But it would be a mis-
take to ignore the warning signs from
the Golden State. These same root
causes exist elsewhere, and when
something tips, it tips quickly.
The two factors that I believe have
brought us to this tipping point are
changes in the ways music is experi-
enced and changes in educational
practice. In both cases, music educa-
tion has become disconnected from
the prevailing culture. First, let us
MEJ Centennial Series
During 2007, MENC’s hundredth anniversary, each issue of MEJ will feature a
special article celebrating the centennial in a series guest-edited by Patrick K.
Freer. Each article is intended to help readers reflect on the past one hundred
years and consider where we might go from here.The following articles make up
this special series:
G“Reflections on Fifty Years of Publishing with MENC” by Bennett Reimer,
January 2007
G“Extending the Vision: Three Women Who Saw the Future of Music
Education” by Patrick K. Freer and Diana R. Dansereau, March 2007
G“Democracy and One Hundred Years of Music Education” by Randall
Everett Allsup, May 2007
G“MENC in International Perspective” by Marie McCarthy, September
G“Music Education at the Tipping Point” by John Kratus,
November 2007
consider the nature of music experi-
ence. Music is undeniably important
in the lives of young people. Research
suggests that adolescents in the
United States listen to music an aver-
age two to four hours per day.14 Music
is the soundtrack of their lives, and
the relationship between adolescents
and their music is potent and deeply
How Music Is Experienced. Rather
than develop curricula that comple-
ment the ways people actually experi-
ence music in their lives, teachers typ-
ically base their curricula on their
own goals and the way they were
taught. One example of this is teach-
ing solfège. How many amateur or
professional musicians use solfège
outside of school settings? Collegiate
music schools are in many cases the
most out-of-touch, clinging to an out-
moded nineteenth-century model of
conservatory training for professional
classical performers, even in the
preparation of music educators. One
wonders whether our profession’s
resistance to change is a direct result
of the limitations in the musicianship
we have been taught.
The music made in schools, largely
based on classical, folk, and some-
times jazz traditions, represents a
small and shrinking slice of the musi-
cal pie. Students perform music in
school that they rarely, if ever, hear
outside of school. More than one-third
of the nation’s largest one hundred
radio markets have no classical music
station.15 Between 1999–2000 and
2003–04, symphony attendance in the
United States dropped 13 percent.16 A
recent article by the chair of the
American Symphony Orchestra
League notes, “The ground beneath us
is shifting—has already shifted—in
fundamental ways. We are seeing
changes in the public perception of
culture and taste.”17 In 2005, classical
music accounted for only 2.3 percent
of the total number of CDs sold.18
Some may view this as a cultural
calamity, and others may consider it to
be a natural evolution of public tastes.
Regardless, it is real.
The experience of music is also
becoming much more individualized,
a world of earbuds and personal digi-
tal recording studios. A student’s iPod
tunes are his or hers alone, and a
young composer or performer no
longer needs bandmates to create a
pop song or a symphony in the base-
ment. By contrast, school music
emphasizes large-group performance,
in which everyone plays or sings the
same piece at the same time.
Technology has forever changed
the experience of music. In the twen-
tieth century, the advent of radio and
the phonograph made it possible for
people to listen to music without
being physically present at its per-
formance. Today the digital music rev-
olution has been equally profound.
The growing use of MP3 players has
made music more portable, more
accessible, and more individualistic.
The Internet has not only changed the
way music is distributed, it has also
encouraged the development of com-
munities of music mavens who may
live thousands of miles apart. For
example, I now have the ability to dis-
cover for myself, online, the music of
an obscure musician and communi-
cate with others around the world
who like his music. I can also upload
music I have created to the Web and
have others listen to it and provide
Musical communities can be
formed by musical interest rather than
acquaintance or physical proximity. A
seventh grader in Florida may have
musical tastes more in common with
an Internet friend in India than with
the person sitting next to her in home-
room. The dream of music serving as
a bridge connecting the world’s peo-
ple, the elusive “universal language,”
is within our grasp. Yet few schools
fully employ the power of technology
in the making and sharing of music.
Because of these changing ways of
experiencing music, the notion that
music performance is best experi-
enced in person has become passé.
Live performance is still a vital part of
our musical culture, as exemplified by
television’s popular American Idol pro-
gram, but physical proximity to live
music is not as important as it once
was. The generation who attended
Woodstock has been replaced by a
generation who experienced 2005’s
Live 8 concerts on AOL. Counter to
this trend, music education still places
its emphasis on one-shot, auditorium
performances of large ensembles.
Instrumental performance media
have changed as well. The best-selling
instruments in the United States are
the electric keyboard and guitar.19
They are instruments that allow for a
lifetime of musical performance and
creativity and enable a performer to
play alone or with others and to sing
while playing. Many keyboard and
guitar players even compose their own
songs. Rather than eagerly embracing
these instruments—which more read-
ily connect to students’ own world of
music and could help students
continue creating music after graduat-
ing from school—our school pro-
grams still emphasize band and
orchestra instruments and standard
school repertoire. The oboe is a fine
instrument. But considering the small
audience for classical oboe music and
the enormous amount of effort it takes
to get a single good tone from an oboe,
is there any wonder that twelve-year-
olds are not jumping at the chance to
play it?
Changes in Educational Practice.
The nature of music in the world and
the nature of music in school are,
then, quite different things. As illus-
trated in figure 1, these differences are
substantial. These are factors that, I
believe, have brought music education
to a tipping point. Not only have in-
school music experiences become dis-
associated from out-of-school music
experiences, but tried-and-true music
education practices have become
unmoored from educational practices
used in other disciplines. The teach-
ing model most emulated in second-
ary ensembles is that of the autocratic,
professional conductor of a large, clas-
sical ensemble.20 Is that the model of
The nature of music in the world
and the nature of music in school
are, then, quite different things.
music making we want for our stu-
dents? Even our language conveys this
intent: people who lead school ensem-
bles are called “directors,” not “teach-
ers.” (Directors direct and teachers
teach.) In many cases, the ensemble
director selects the music, makes all
the artistic decisions regarding inter-
pretation, and shapes the resulting
performance through tightly managed
rehearsals to match a preconceived
notion of the piece, correcting errors
along the way. It is an autocratic
model of teaching that has no parallel
in any other school subject. Of course,
not all ensemble teaching is structured
this way, but a great deal is.
Other school subjects have come to
terms with the cognitive revolution.
Children learning to use language, for
example, learn to read from authentic
sources such as newspapers and books
as soon as possible. Elementary chil-
dren are encouraged to write and pub-
lish their own books, fostering com-
munities of independently function-
ing readers and writers. Language is
taught contextually, not as a series of
sequential exercises. By contrast,
many of our music education prac-
tices take students through a step-by-
step approach, dominated by the
teacher, and leading toward a result
that is anything but an independently
functioning musician.
I contend that the long-term prob-
lems of music education will be fixed
neither through improved advocacy
for the status quo nor with “music
makes you smarter” campaigns.
School music has drifted too far from
out-of-school music, and music edu-
cation practices have drifted too far
from other contemporary education
practices. Perhaps we must just admit
that music education did not ade-
quately change with the changing cul-
tures in music or in education.
The situation has been noted by
others outside the music education
community. In an essay in MENC’s
Vision 2020, Warrick Carter, former
director of Disney Entertainment Arts,
When one looks at the study
of other disciplines, it is apparent
that there is a direct correlation
between what is learned as a
future adult and its implication
and application for adult life ... It
is only in the study of music that
specific kinds of music are known
as “school music,” separate from
other music with which students
may participate as adults ...
School music experiences have
frequently neglected large areas of
music making and music expres-
sion and have consistently not
only failed to validate these but
have in many cases relegated
them to areas that seem to be less
desirable and unimportant.21
There is irony in all this. One of the
functions of music education is to pre-
serve the best of our musical past and
our diverse musical cultures by pass-
ing on valued practices and traditions
to the next generation. The aim of
preservation would appear to run
counter to radical curricular change.
Music is unlike science, in which con-
temporary discoveries and theories
improve upon and supplant prior
ones. In music, Stravinsky is not nec-
essarily better than Beethoven, and
R&B is not necessarily better than
jazz, even if R&B outsells jazz eight to
Perhaps an answer would be for
music educators to take a page from
colleagues in history education, who
also have a responsibility to preserve
the past. They reformed the teaching
of history away from names, dates,
and places of historical events to an
understanding of history’s subtexts,
causes, and relevance to current
events. Music educators, too, can
uphold tradition while embracing the
Creating a Movement for
Change in Music Education
I would like to apply Gladwell’s
ideas to positive ends, beginning with
the notion that music education needs
to become sticky, meaning that it must
become potent and irresistible. It must
also connect people to music in ways
that are both personally fulfilling and
educationally valid. There must be
mavens to initiate the change, connec-
tors to transmit the change to a broad-
er population, and salesmen (and
women) to translate the change into
each school’s particular context.
Above all, the nature of music educa-
tion should reflect the cultural and
social milieu in which it exists.
So what would this kind of music
education look like? It seems to me
that the best way to start is by looking
at how music is actually used in the
world, not the ways it exists in
schools. The factors in the first col-
umn of figure 1 might lead toward
such a starting point. Are there models
of using music in schools that are sim-
ilar to the way music is used in the
real world that also fulfill Gladwell’s
criterion of being sticky?
One unique example is the popular
ukulele movement in New Zealand
schools.23 The ukulele is an instru-
ment that is relatively easy to play,
allowing for a quick path to a satisfy-
ing musical experience. It can be used
to accompany songs; it can be played
by an individual student without the
need for a teacher and other perform-
ers; it can prepare students to play the
more difficult guitar; and it can pro-
vide a lifetime of enjoyment. A group
of students playing ukulele is also
funky enough to be a very sticky idea.
In the United States, a perfect
example of sticky music education is
the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s
“Creating Original Opera” program.24
The program is part of an effort to
make opera relevant to elementary
and secondary students, accomplished
by showing students how to make the
music their own. As a result, thou-
sands of young people across the
United States have learned to create
and produce their own operas. For
these students, opera is cool! Is such a
program attractive? Newsworthy?
Educational? You bet.
Another example of sticky music
education is the Vermont MIDI
Project.25 The project uses the
Internet to connect student com-
posers in general music classes with
professional composers and with col-
legiate music education and composi-
tion majors. The students in Vermont
create MIDI files of their original
music, which are sent to music majors
and professional composers. The stu-
dents in Vermont receive detailed
appraisals of their music in its first
draft and throughout the revision
process. Here, younger and older
musicians form a virtual community
of composers, making use of technol-
ogy to bring people together and pro-
moting the creativity of individuals.
Other new directions for music
education such as ethnic ensembles,
popular music ensembles, songwrit-
ing classes, and composition classes
offer additional means to connect with
young people in musically and educa-
tionally rewarding ways. None of
these ideas would work everywhere.
But each of them has worked some-
where and could work elsewhere. To
get there, I suggest that we focus on
Gladwell’s three criteria for creating a
movement that spreads: focus,test,
and believe.26
First, focus by identifying the
mavens who have the talent and pas-
sion to nurture an idea. In each of the
examples presented above, a passion-
ate maven, often a single teacher, put
into practice an idea that had great
power. These people exist everywhere
but are often limited by bureaucratic
walls. Often enough these mavens per-
severe and effect change. I think there
are more mavens out there, although
they are not necessarily education pro-
fessionals. We need to identify them
and put their advice to good use.
People who can be connectors are
also necessary. One possible reason for
the California tipping point was a lack
of effective connectors. In the report
on California schools, the authors
wrote that the elimination of many
fine arts coordinator positions meant
that there was no one sitting with
administrators to address the needs of
music when budgetary decisions were
made. We need more music champi-
ons, whether they come from the
ranks of music educators, parent
groups, universities, arts organiza-
tions, government agencies, or the
music industry. We also need to make
greater use of MENC at the state and
local levels, where good ideas can be
passed along through workshops or
even streaming-video demonstrations.
Second, test to refine the idea and
decide how to best package it. Any
educational reform will have to be
tested under a variety of conditions.
Almost certainly there will be no sin-
gle panacea that can be applied every-
where with equal success. Is the
ukulele movement in New Zealand
transportable to another country?
Only testing will reveal the answer.
Before jumping into major changes,
the product will need to be refined
and tested to see how it works in dif-
ferent situations.
Third, believe that change is possi-
ble, even under unlikely circum-
stances. Curricular change is possible,
as exemplified by the programs I have
described. It never would have
occurred to me that the ukulele would
be an instrument young people would
enjoy playing. The instrument, at least
in the United States, is widely consid-
ered to be the product of a bygone era,
hopelessly corny. I also would never
have believed that seventh graders
would find opera “cool.” But these
“illogical” ideas worked, thanks to the
mavens who had the strength of their
ideals to promote the causes. By learn-
ing to connect better with each other
and with others outside our profes-
sion, we can spread the word of our
most successful practices and reform
music education.
None of this will come easily. The
future would be so much easier if we
could blithely continue teaching as we
have been taught, generation after
generation. But I do not think we have
that option, and time is precious. The
bad news is, like the ancient saying,
that we are cursed to live in interest-
ing times. The good news is, as
Malcolm Gladwell wrote—little things
can make a big difference.27
1. Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping
Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big
Difference (New York: Little, Brown and
Company, 2000).
2. Ibid., 60.
3. Ibid., 38.
4. Ibid., 78.
5. Ibid., 92.
6. Music for All Foundation, The Sound
of Silence: The Unprecedented Decline of
Music Education in California Public
Schools: A Statistical Review (Warren, NJ:
Music for All Foundation, 2004). Available
7. Ibid., 5.
8. Ibid., 5.
9. “New Harris Poll Reveals that 93
Percent of Americans Believe that the Arts
Are Vital to Providing a Well-Rounded
Education” (Americans for the Arts, June
13, 2005). Available at
10. Music for All Foundation, The
Figure 1. Comparison of Out-of-School Music and In-School Music
Out-of-School Music In-School Music
Satisfies the user’s personal and
emotional goals
Satisfies curricular goals
Individualistic Large-group oriented
Makes use of technology to connect
mavens across distances
Makes little use of technology to
connect students to others
Primarily nonclassical Primarily classical
De-emphasizes formal concert atten-
dance, enabling a performance to be
experienced over time and distance
Emphasizes one-time concerts,
requiring the audience to be present
in a single location at a specified time
Often homemade Usually composed by others
Makes wide use of guitar and key-
board, allowing for a lifetime of musi-
cal involvement, alone or with others
Makes limited use of guitar and key-
board, instead focusing on instru-
ments that restrict musical involve-
ment after graduation except in large
Sound of Silence, 10.
11. Ibid., 11.
12. “First-Ever Canadian Report Re-
leased on the State of Music Education”
(Coalition for Music Education in Canada,
May 27, 2005). Read the complete report
13. Council for Basic Education,
Academic Atrophy: The Condition of the
Liberal Arts in America’s Public Schools
(Washington, DC: Council for Basic
Education, 2004). Available at http://
14. Steven C. Martino, et al., “Exposure
to Degrading Versus Nondegrading Music
Lyrics and Sexual Behavior Among Youth,”
Pediatrics 118, no. 2 (August 2006): 430.
15. Joshua Kosman, “Classical Music:
Tuning Up for the 21st Century,” San
Francisco Chronicle, July 15, 2002.
16. Jacob Hale Russell. “Orchestras
Ponder Their Future,” Wall Street Journal
Online, 4 June 2006. (http://online.wsj
l) Data reported from the American
Symphony Orchestra League.
17. Lowell Noteboom, “A Champion
for Orchestras,” Symphony (July/August
2006): 37–39. Available at www
18. Total CD sales in 2005 were 705.4
million and classical sales were 15.9 mil-
lion. Data from Nielsen SoundScan, avail-
able at
35.html and
19. NAMM, The International Music
Products Association, Music USA 2006: A
Statistical Review of the Music Products
Industry (Carlsbad, CA: NAMM, 2006).
20. A study of job satisfaction among
members of seventy-eight professional
orchestras revealed that orchestra musi-
cians are generally less satisfied with their
jobs than are prison guards. (Jutta J.
Allmendinger, et al. “Life and Work in
Symphony Orchestras,” Musical Quarterly
80, no. 2 (Summer 1996): 194–219.
21. Warrick L. Carter, “Response to
Judith A. Jellison’s ‘How Can All People
Continue to Be Involved in Meaningful
Music Participation?’” in Vision 2020: The
Housewright Symposium on the Future of
Music Education, ed. Clifford K. Madsen
(Reston, VA: MENC, 2000), 140. Available
22. Neilsen SoundScan. This report
shows that 2005 sales of jazz were 17.1
million and sales of R&B were 143.4 mil-
23. “About ‘Play It Strange,’” (Play it
Strange Trust, September 13, 2006). Read
more about the program at www.playit
24. “Creating Original Opera,” (Metr-
opolitan Opera Guild, September 13,
25. “Vermont MIDI Project,” (Vermont
MIDI Project, September 13, 2006).; for an example of a
Vermont MIDI project see Patricia Riley, “9
National Standards: 1 Composition
Project,” Teaching Music 13, no. 4
(February 2006): 24–28.
26. Gladwell, Tipping Point, 253–59.
27. Ibid. I
... The Housewright Declaration followed years later in 1999, stating that all types of music should be included in a well-rounded music curriculum (Madsen 2000). Despite strong support for culturally relevant music education, scholars continued to describe a disconnect between the curriculum music educators use in classrooms in the United States and the popular music many students enjoy outside of school (Isbell 2007;Kratus 2007;Rodriguez 2004;Williams 2011;Woody 2007). ...
... Scholars in the United States have pointed to waning student participation rates as one motivation for including popular music in school (Kratus 2007;Williams 2011) so it is unsurprising that respondents identified students as being the most supportive factor in creating a popular music programme. Popular music education scholars define popular music as the music of the students (Powell and Burstein 2017) which may not necessarily be commercially popular. ...
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The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes, values, and beliefs of New York music teachers towards the inclusion of popular music in the classroom. This research was guided by the following questions: 1) To what extent are K-12 teachers interested in teaching a variety of popular music instruments and styles? 2) What attitudes and beliefs do music teachers express about popular music education? 3) What popular music approaches are used most frequently by music teachers? and 4) What are the opportunities or barriers associated with popular music classes and ensembles in school settings? Survey respondents (N = 120), all of whom were members of the New York State School Music Association in the United States, showed strong support for the inclusion of popular music education in school programmes, with approximately 75 per cent of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that popular music instruments and repertoire should be included in K-12 schools. ARTICLE HISTORY
... Despite the efforts outlined above to expand access to popular music in US public schools, music education programmes until the turn of the 21st century still largely propagated outdated models of music education that left progressive practices unable to find footing (Campbell et al., 2014;Kratus, 2007;Mantie and Tucker, 2008;Randles and Smith, 2012;Rodriguez, 2004;Williams, 2011;Williams and Randles, 2017). These models were perpetuated and reinforced by higher education's music teacher education industry, with teachers preparing teachers to teach the way they too had been taught to teach. ...
The pervasive Eurocentric model of music education in the United States is hegemonic, pursuing a model of performance excellence in large ensembles that, by the time young people reach high school, excludes most from music making opportunities in school. Despite numerous efforts to challenge the dominant paradigm since the 1960s, little change has happened from within the music education profession. Since 2002, nonprofit organization Little Kids Rock (Music Will) has leveraged outsider perspectives and philanthropic resources to galvanize momentum nationally towards adoption of curricula and musicking practices that focus more on popular musics and lifelong learning. Through a programme of professional development, curriculum provision and instrument donations, Little Kids Rock has both engaged in active resistance against, and established strategic partnerships with, state governments, university departments, school districts, major industry players including the National Association of Music Merchants, and education brands such as Berklee College of Music. Little Kids Rock promotes a new stream of music making called “modern band” as a disruptive phenomenon that emphasizes creativity, cultural relevance and student-centred learning while reinforcing entrenched hegemonic structures. Drawing on the history of Little Kids Rock and the modern band movement, the authors use Kahn-Egan’s (1998) five tenets of punk to frame a critical examination of the modern band phenomenon and the ways which Little Kids Rock operates at various points along punk’s ideological spectrum in attempting to “transform lives through restoring, expanding and innovating music education” in US schools.
... Several scholars in music education have commented on the gap between school music and the music that children and adolescents choose to listen to, perform, and create outside of school (Bowman, 2004;Folkestad, 2006;Green, 2006;Griffin, 2009;Harwood, 1998;Kratus, 2007;Waldron & Veblen, 2009). Green (2002) addressed the relationships 6 between informal and formal practices. ...
... However, 10% to 28% reported that they had not experienced it much, conceding though that the mixed chorus was very important to them in terms of improving their sight reading skills in music. It is actually not surprising that some students benefited less from the mixed chorus because existing literature corroborates the position that large ensemble participation, including choral ensembles, in schools is a positive motivator for some students and also discourages others (Kratus, 2007). It is likely to experience such situations, especially where the mixed chorus ensemble is mandatory, making all students, whether interested in singing or not, to participate in it. ...
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Choral singing, termed 'mixed chorus', is an integral part of the academic activities of the Department of Music Education, University of Education, Winneba. However, the impact of the singing on the wellbeing of the students and lecturers is largely unexplored. With 350 participants, this study contributes to filling that gap. Using questionnaire and interviews, the article examines the health benefits of singing in terms of emotional, psychological, social and physical wellbeing. It concludes that the mixed chorus has a great impact on the total health of the participants. However, this impact is dependent on some generative mechanisms needed in the training of choral singers. Public health professionals and researchers are increasingly giving serious consideration to the idea that the fitness and wellbeing of individuals, institutions and communities are dependent on multiple factors that call for collaboration across and within sectors. This is probably due to the redefinition of health by the World Health Organisation (1946) which recognises freedom of choice and emphasizes the role of individuals and communities in defining what health means to them. Epp (1987) comments on this new perspective of health from a broad range of factors, such as human biology, lifestyle, the organisation of health care, and the social and physical environments in which people live: Health ceases to be measurable strictly in terms of illness and death. It becomes a state which individuals and communities alike strive to achieve, maintain or regain, and not something that comes about merely as a result of treating and curing illnesses and injuries. It is a basic and dynamic force in our daily lives, influenced by our circumstances, our beliefs, our culture and our social, economic and physical environments. (p. 420) Given the dynamic force of health in our daily lives, there is the need to examine other possible activities and circumstances that facilitate the wellbeing of the people. It is for this reason that this study is undertaken to explore the extent to which choral singing can be one of such broad factors for solving contemporary problems relating to health and wellbeing.
Conference Paper
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This paper aims to investigate the experience of music teachers in primary and secondary education and whether their teaching approaches promote a sense of democratic community in the classroom and democratic accountability in the community. The data were collected through questionnaires from music teachers who worked in elementary, middle and high schools during 2018-19. Through a qualitative thematic analysis, it became evident that music teachers, in the spirit of democratic education, offer students opportunities to coexist equally within a music group, promoting equality, freedom of thought and music expression, but avoid cultivating to students a feeling of social responsibility.
In Western countries, music educators have made efforts to revitalise enthusiasm for music education by integrating more mainstream and culturally-relevant genres into their curriculum. Conversely, current research indicates that popular music pedagogy in mainland China is not encouraged and faces many obstacles, as school music education is used to promote Chinese traditional music and bolster nationalism. This qualitative case study investigates how popular music pedagogy in an international school, based in China, accommodates the diverse cultural backgrounds of its Chinese and non-Chinese students when teaching Western and Chinese popular music. For 6 weeks, I had the privilege of closely observing a music class containing a mixture of 12 Chinese and non-Chinese students at an international secondary school based in Shanghai, China. Findings revealed that students were given autonomy to engage with their preferred music genre during lessons that focused on music performance and composition. Interestingly, Chinese students gravitated towards studying C-pop on their own accord, a domestic and sanitised form of popular music. However, the study of modern popular music genres was not prevalent during the music appraisal lessons. The challenges of integrating Chinese popular music pedagogy in an international classroom setting are also discussed.
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In the light of critical race theory, the authors argue that by engaging in multicultural music through song, students gain cultural and historical understandings of minority groups which may break down barriers that propagate Eurocentrism in music education. In this paper we share our field experience using Zoom videoconferencing as a conduit to access and include music from Africa in initial teacher education (ITE) programmes in Australia. In their preparation to be culturally responsive, ITE students are required to participate in activities that foster understandings of other times, places, cultures, and contexts. Author One collaborated in March 2021 with Author Two, a tertiary music educator based in the United States, to teach Kenyan songs sharing about local culture, and music pedagogy to her third year Bachelor of Education (primary) generalist students in Australia. Employing narrative inquiry, we provide insights into the process of our collaboration and, through critical reflection, add insights into the context of music classroom practice. The findings show that Zoom is an effective videoconferencing platform in helping music educators collaborate to improve practice and increase students’ awareness of music and people from Africa. We recommend that music educators across education settings use technology to collaborate locally and internationally with other music educators and culture bearers to promote inclusive ways of teaching and learning music from Africa. As tertiary music educators, we call on all who teach and learn to respect, recognise, and embrace diverse musical arts in their teaching and learning environments.
According to music educators, persistence beyond a student’s initial enrollment in middle and high school music is a problem; however, there has been little research to substantiate this claim. Although several recent large-scale, longitudinal studies of initial selection into music classes have been conducted, longitudinal studies on who persists (vs. quits) in music—especially from middle to high school—are overdue. We prospectively followed a large ( n = 3,393), ethnically diverse (62% Hispanic, 29% Black), predominately low-income (77% free/reduced-price lunch) sample of eighth-grade middle school music students to high school (ninth grade) to understand predictors of persistence. Overall, only 24.5% of students taking a music elective in eighth grade continued to do so in ninth grade (band = 20.4%, chorus = 21.8%, guitar = 12.3%, orchestra = 20.4%). Initially more academically competent students (higher eighth-grade grade point average and reading and math scores) and students with disabilities were more likely to persist with music from eighth to ninth grade. Predictors varied somewhat by music type. A multigroup analysis showed moderation across music types with respect to the effect of gender, gifted status, and math on music persistence (e.g., high math scores predict band but did not predict other music-type persistence). Implications for music educators and researchers are discussed.
The purpose of this narrative action research study was to tell Marcus’s story as an ensemble director learning how to teach composition in his middle school orchestra program. Marcus collaborated with Sam, a university professor, and designed a study to examine his teaching in his 49-member advanced orchestra class. As time passed, the focus of the study shifted from examining the specific elements of Marcus’s curriculum to the inclusion of changes in the creative culture of his program. In response to this shift, we used a narrative inquiry approach to understand how Marcus’s teaching story unfolded. Transcripts of his video journal, research meetings, and student focus group interviews helped Marcus improve his teaching and develop his curriculum. As co-narrators of this story, we used different font styles to identify whose voice is in the foreground.
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore collegiate musicians’ lived experiences with democratic rehearsal procedures in a concert band setting. A constructivist worldview and phenomenological framework were used to examine participants’ experiences using their own words through weekly written reflections, pre- and post- questionnaires, rehearsal interactions, and semi-structured interviews. Participants ( N = 42) were members of a co-directed, non-auditioned university concert band at a large midwestern university. Data collection took place during an eight-week concert cycle which included scaffolded democratic experiences such as (a) selecting music for performance, (b) participating in collaborative score study/preparation during rehearsal, (c) identifying and selecting music segments for rehearsal, (d) identifying and describing opportunities for individual and ensemble performance improvement, (e) analyzing, discussing, and making decisions regarding how the music should be performed, (f) participating in student-led sectionals, and (g) participating in student-led full ensemble rehearsal. Themes associated with participants’ experiences included (a) the value of multiple perspectives, (b) ownership and musical agency, (c) engagement, and (d) providing feedback. Participants indicated that the democratic rehearsal cycle was generally a positive experience. Application of democratic rehearsal procedures may aid students in developing their agency, musicianship, and musical independence.
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Early sexual activity is a significant problem in the United States. A recent survey suggested that most sexually experienced teens wish they had waited longer to have intercourse; other data indicate that unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are more common among those who begin sexual activity earlier. Popular music may contribute to early sex. Music is an integral part of teens' lives. The average youth listens to music 1.5 to 2.5 hours per day. Sexual themes are common in much of this music and range from romantic and playful to degrading and hostile. Although a previous longitudinal study has linked music video consumption and sexual risk behavior, no previous study has tested longitudinal associations between the content of music lyrics and subsequent changes in sexual experience, such as intercourse initiation, nor has any study explored whether exposure to different kinds of portrayals of sex has different effects. We conducted a national longitudinal telephone survey of 1461 adolescents. Participants were interviewed at baseline (T1), when they were 12 to 17 years old, and again 1 and 3 years later (T2 and T3). At all of the interviews, participants reported their sexual experience and responded to measures of more than a dozen factors known to be associated with adolescent sexual initiation. A total of 1242 participants reported on their sexual behavior at all 3 time points; a subsample of 938 were identified as virgins before music exposure for certain analyses. Participants also indicated how frequently they listened to each of more than a dozen musical artists representing a variety of musical genres. Data on listening habits were combined with results of an analysis of the sexual content of each artist's songs to create measures of exposure to 2 kinds of sexual content: degrading and nondegrading. We measured initiation of intercourse and advancement in noncoital sexual activity level over a 2-year period. Multivariate regression analyses indicated that youth who listened to more degrading sexual content at T2 were more likely to subsequently initiate intercourse and to progress to more advanced levels of noncoital sexual activity, even after controlling for 18 respondent characteristics that might otherwise explain these relationships. In contrast, exposure to nondegrading sexual content was unrelated to changes in participants' sexual behavior. Listening to music with degrading sexual lyrics is related to advances in a range of sexual activities among adolescents, whereas this does not seem to be true of other sexual lyrics. This result is consistent with sexual-script theory and suggests that cultural messages about expected sexual behavior among males and females may underlie the effect. Reducing the amount of degrading sexual content in popular music or reducing young people's exposure to music with this type of content could help delay the onset of sexual behavior.
These are social epidemics, and the moment when they take off, when they reach their critical mass, is the Tipping Point.
Exposure to Degrading Versus Nondegrading Music Lyrics and Sexual Behavior Among Youth
  • C Steven
  • Martino
Steven C. Martino, et al., "Exposure to Degrading Versus Nondegrading Music Lyrics and Sexual Behavior Among Youth," Pediatrics 118, no. 2 (August 2006): 430. 15. Joshua Kosman, "Classical Music: Tuning Up for the 21st Century," San Francisco Chronicle, July 15, 2002. ( /chronicle/archive/2002/07/15/DD52044. DTL&type=music) 16. Jacob Hale Russell. "Orchestras Ponder Their Future," Wall Street Journal Online, 4 June 2006. (http://online.wsj .com/article/SB114920312819169203.htm l) Data reported from the American Symphony Orchestra League.
Classical Music: Tuning Up for the 21st Century
  • Joshua Kosman
This report shows that 2005 sales of jazz were 17.1 million and sales of R&B were 143
  • Neilsen Soundscan
Academic Atrophy: The Condition of the Liberal Arts in America's Public Schools
  • Basic Council
  • Education
A Champion for Orchestras
  • Lowell Noteboom
Lowell Noteboom, "A Champion for Orchestras," Symphony (July/August 2006): 37-39. Available at www
The International Music Products Association, Music USA 2006: A Statistical Review of the Music Products Industry Google Scholar
  • Namm