Increasing diversity and equity in secondary and college music programs is a common thread in the scholarship across disciplines in the field. While crucial work is being done to decolonize curricula broadly, students often express difficulty relating to formal music study and teachers struggle to balance desires to diversify repertoire and incorporate alternative pedagogical strategies with their own training. Narratives of white supremacy and music have intersected for over 400 years, but the effect goes beyond the composers and pieces we choose to program or teach. It influences foundational concepts of theory, tuning, and even what notes are (the major scale). This paper uses historical and pedagogical research methods to examine the connections between narratives of white supremacy and formal music study, and then shows how the practice of reframing these narratives can lead to a reframing of classroom and applied teaching strategies. Specific attention is given to teaching the blues and improvisation, but the concepts can be applied to different teaching situations as well. The goal is to offer suggestions to aid in the process of creating classroom settings that are more accessible and applicable to students and less daunting for educators.



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