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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


School of Music


Abstract The majority of literature about teaching in urban settings has focused on the experiences of educators and students in large urban settings (Costa-Giomi, 2008; Fitzpatrick, 2008, 2011), and has been general classroom focused (Elpus & Abril, 2011; Glenn, 2005; McEachin & Brewer, 2012; Young, 2007). A smaller body of literature about teaching music classes in urban settings exists (Kinney, 2010; Bernard, 2010), while less still exists about the status of orchestra programs in urban settings (Fitzpatrick, 2011, Hamann & Gillespie, 1998; Smith, 1997). Little research examines midsize urban educational settings by state, and less still has examined the status of orchestra programs in midsized urban settings in Virginia. The purpose of this study was to examine the status of middle and high school string orchestra programs in Virginia public schools located in midsized urban settings. String orchestra directors (N = 30) were invited to complete an online survey of 26 questions. Nineteen of the orchestra directors participated. Fifteen participants completed the survey, while four surveys were incomplete. Individual data for study participant’s responses to multiple choice and Likert scale responses were collected, compared and analyzed. Data for free-response questions were transcribed for each individual participant before being grouped according to observable grouped theme categories. Results of this study suggested participants possessed a high level of training (master’s or doctorate degree), and reported having a high level of job satisfaction. With regard to ethnicity, 87% (n = 13) of the participants indicated that their own ethnicity was not reflective of the majority ethnicity of the student population with which they worked. A majority of the participants (66%) indicated that they had experienced some level of difficulty when recruiting students for their school’s orchestra program. A number of shared themes were identified in the participants’ free response transcriptions. Participants shared the values of showing respect to, caring for, and having high expectations for their students. Respondents emphasized being organized, and having classroom management skills. Other themes included the importance of having adequate and effective teacher preparation; access to instruments and other resources; and the support of parents, administrators, and colleagues.

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