Theses Doctoral

The Lived Experience Of Asian Americans In the U.S. Music Education: A Phenomenological Study

Kim, Sori

This phenomenological study delves into the nuanced lived experiences of Korean American college music majors in U.S. music education. Seven participants were recruited based on the specific criteria: (a) Korean immigrants, (b) experience in band classes or orchestra classes during their K-12 years in the U.S., and (c) majoring in music or music education. Based on the collected interview data, a structured analysis process was conducted.

As a result, 5 units of meaning were identified, which were able to synthesize the experiences of Korean American immigrant music majors: (a) Culturally inclusive (or not) music experiences, (b) feeling included (or not), (c) supportive (or not) music teachers, (d) intricacies of Korean cultural music, and (e) cultural identity. After the analysis process, hermeneutic circle was conducted to refine the synthesized 5 overarching meaning units. Refined clustered units of meaning from the Hermeneutic circle were: (a) Experience of Korean cultural inclusion mostly outside of regular music classes at school, (b) Korean American college music majors felt included when musically engaged, (c) Korean American college music majors emphasized the important role of music teachers, (d) Korean American college music majors think that culturally responsive music education is not simply implementing cultural music in repertoire, and (e) Korean American college music majors argued that cultural identity is complexe and can be described differently, depending on the situation.

Through the identification and exploration of 5 overarching units of meanings, it offers a profound understanding of how Korean Americans navigate cultural inclusion, engagement in music, the role of music teachers, the complexities of culturally responsive education, and the multifaceted nature of cultural identity. This exploration contributes to a richer comprehension of the diverse facets of Korean Americans' music education experiences and extends its impact by providing a broader perspective on the encounters of Asian immigrants in the U.S. The indirect comparison with the researcher's native Korean K-12 music education background adds a unique layer, unveiling insights into how Asian Americans actively navigate limitations within the U.S. music education system.

The implications drawn from this study highlight the proactive engagement of Korean Americans in U.S. music education. Musicians, policymakers, and practitioner-researchers are encouraged to consider these insights in their respective roles. Musicians, regardless of cultural background, are urged to persist in creative endeavors, contributing to the creation of diverse arrangements and addressing the absence of representation. Policymakers should address the demographic imbalance among music teachers, actively working towards creating a more diverse and inclusive landscape within the field. Practitioner-researchers play a crucial role in researching and addressing the needs of culturally marginalized students in music education, focusing on fostering inclusivity.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Parkes, Kelly
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 12, 2024