Theses Doctoral

Influences on Orchestra Teachers' Pedagogical Choices: a Multiple-case Study

Fung, Alex W.

This study explored orchestra educators’ perceptions of influences on pedagogy. Many professional orchestras of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries maintained a centralized, hierarchical structure in rehearsal and performance. An emphasis on preparing primary and secondary grade school students for real world experiences have prompted many orchestra educators to emulate the traditional authoritarian structure of professional orchestras. The emergence of student-centered pedagogy and democratization of music education in the twentieth century has prompted some orchestra educators in schools to employ progressive teaching approaches. Despite research addressing orchestral best practices in classrooms and pedagogical orientation, there is insufficient research regarding how orchestra educators’ perceived influences on pedagogy and pedagogical rationale encourage or discourage teacher- and/or student-centered teaching methods.

This study did not compare the efficacy of teacher- and student-centered orchestra pedagogy, but examined orchestra educators’ perception of pedagogical influences, rationale/justification of pedagogical choice, and influences on the implementation of teacher- and/or student-centered instruction. A demographic inventory survey was sent to 422 orchestra educators in a northeastern region of the United States. Twenty-one factors were cited as having an influence on orchestra classroom pedagogy by thirteen orchestra educator survey respondents. Of the thirteen survey respondents, five orchestra educators participated in this multiple-case study. A close examination of five orchestra educators found time, orchestra content, personal philosophy, rapport with students/colleagues, and pedagogical knowledge as having shaped teacher- and student-centered pedagogical decisions. The majority of research participants did not view themselves as teacher- or student-centered, but found various needs to implement both approaches.

A cross-examination of pedagogical choice and rationale triggered a discussion on the status of orchestra, contextual influences, educators’ sense of self/happiness, what student-centered orchestras looks like, and pedagogical freedom. How educators view and negotiate these facets of education might dictate the lengths to which they can implement their preferred pedagogical approach.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Parkes, Kelly A.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 13, 2020