A Comparative Case Study of Secondary Instrumental Music Education

Degree Name

Master of Music Education (MME)

Document Type



Faculty of Arts and Sciences


The purpose of this comparative case study was to investigate, explore, and describe the methods and practices of secondary instrumental music education in a public school setting. Two sites, a Rhode Island public school and a Rhode Island community music school, were chosen for observation. Two major ensembles, a jazz band and a concert band, were observed at each site on four different occasions. Observations were organized by the National Standards of Music Education, although the study did not focus on whether or not the programs “met” the standards. Data was also placed into the category of non-musical factors. Observations and analysis found that the non-musical factors, and themes that emerged from those factors, were the largest noticeable difference between the two sites. These factors also contributed to the disparity in the two sites abilities to address the standards. Non-musical factors such as scheduling and interruptions were the major issues facing the public school site, including split rehearsal times between ensembles and missed rehearsals due to assemblies. Both sites had significant gaps in their addressing of the standards, although the community music school met more of the standards. This may just be a result of the increase in time spent in rehearsal. This research opens the questions of whether or not the constraints facing public school music educators are hindering their ability to fully educate their students. Research can also be performed to gauge the perceptions that secondary instrumental music educators have on the standards.

Included in

Art Education Commons