Music education in low socio-economic communities in Winnipeg: an exploratory case study

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Henderson, Margret
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This study was designed to better understand K-6 school music programs located in low socio-economic communities in Winnipeg. I also sought to uncover the pedagogical approaches that music teachers working in inner city schools use with their students generally as well as with students who may also experience trauma. An exploratory case study approach was employed. Multiple forms of data were gathered from participating music teachers. Nineteen of the 25 music teachers comprising the target population for this study completed an anonymous online survey, which translates to a 76% participation rate. Six of these teachers also agreed to participate in a semi-structured interview focusing on the pedagogical approaches they use in their music programs. Survey findings revealed that most of the music teachers participating in this study taught music programs for students in grades 1-6. Music teachers reported that their teaching spaces were sufficiently equipped with musical instruments appropriate for use with elementary level students. Teachers communicated that their students perform publicly both at school and in the local community. They reported to be offering extracurricular music programs for students and belonging to professional music education organizations. Participating music teacher had been teaching for more than 10 years or less than three years in their current positions. Thematic analysis of the interview transcripts resulted in three categories and several sub-categories: relationships (student and professional), pedagogical approaches (teaching strategies, high expectations, play, cultural relevance), and the learning environment (classroom management strategies and teacher behaviour). These themes are discussed and illustrated using the voices of teachers who share their perspectives on how these elements contribute to the success of their music programs. Based on the results of this study, it is suggested that professional development opportunities be designed for K-6 music teachers working in low socio-economic school communities that highlight key findings of the study, offer lessons from the related literature, and provide workshop experiences on pedagogical music practices that hold promise for working effectively with diverse students participating in school music programs in low socio-economic school communities. There is need for emphasis on providing culturally relevant music pedagogies and materials. In the future, an observational case study of three music programs in low socio-economic schools in Winnipeg could be conducted. Similar studies could be conducted with music teachers leading K-6 school music programs in rural areas in Manitoba or in other cities with demographics like Winnipeg.
Low Socio-economic, elementary school music, trauma, Winnipeg, music edcation