Preferred Name

Kara Levchenko

Creative Commons License

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

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


School of Music


David Stringham

Amy B. Lewis

Jesse Rathgeber


Recent calls for contemporary change in music education demand more than just an inclusive environment that prepares artistic citizens for lifelong music after public school. Our society has experienced overwhelming shifts since the introduction of music in the public schools in 1838. Yet, dominant narratives of secondary music ensemble education (SMEE) have been performed and expected as the norm since the establishment of large ensembles (e.g., bands, choirs, and orchestras), taking the stage to perform music of the traditional Western canon. The purpose of this explanatory sequential mixed methods study was to discover ways in which secondary music ensemble teachers (SMETs) define, prioritize, and enact inclusivity in their classrooms in relation to dominant narratives of SMEE.

For the purposes of this study, dominant narratives of SMEE can be defined as philosophies, practices and pedagogies which center the White, cisgender, heterosexual, non-disabled experience, through the large ensemble model and Western musical canon. Findings revealed that SMETs’ practices are heavily influenced by dominant narratives they did or did not experience in their own musical backgrounds, and this likely affects their willingness to de-center or reinforce dominant narratives in their own classrooms. Participants cited roadblocks towards de-centering dominant narratives as pressures associated with district assessment, scheduling concerns, and lack of time due to other administrative tasks. Strategies toward de-centering dominant narratives included implementing projects which promote student creativity (i.e., composition, arrangement and improvisation), alternatives to the large ensemble model, and exposing students to a wide range of composers from a variety of backgrounds, specifically, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ composers, through listening activities and intentional repertoire selection.


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