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


William M. Dabback

Amy B. Lewis

David Stringham


In this qualitative case study, I investigated the philosophy and process of an elementary newcomer program and explored the perceived benefits for newcomer students of the musical experience, aiding in transition from full-time English as a second language (ESL) services in self-contained class to a general education setting. The studied school division serves a high population of students who are English Language Learners (ELLs), representing a multitude of languages and cultures. The division places students of immigrant families who have no social or educational experience speaking English in the newcomer program. In order to gain a deep understanding of the musical experience provided for newcomer students, I interviewed the music teacher, building administrator, and division coordinator of English language services. Three semi-structured interviews informed the data analysis, using intrinsic motivational theory as a theoretical framework, with the notion that the three participants upheld the conditions of accessing newcomer students’ inherent motivation.

Results indicated that education professionals perceived that music, when taught through a culturally responsive philosophy, welcomes newcomer students into the school community; develops a positive student disposition for learning each other’s cultures and the new culture to which they are trying to assimilate; enhances meaning regarding language acquisition and development of identity; and engenders competence, putting the students at the center of learning. Therefore, music education should receive strong consideration when planning instruction for newcomer students and ELLs in general. Furthermore, music educators should receive pre-service and in-service training on how to effectively teach students of diverse cultures and languages with a culturally responsive teaching philosophy. Newcomer programs could also benefit from collaboration between music educators, ESL educators, and culturally representative musicians in the community. The implementation of these recommendations could potentially result in stronger cultural identities among immigrant students and more efficient English language acquisition for ELLs.



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