Supporting Cultural Responsiveness & Equity in the Music Classroom


Navigation Links:

Link to my portfolio page: Paige Lee's Portfolio Page

Overview and Purpose

Cover of Culturally Responsive Teaching in Music Education by Constance L. McKoy and Vicki R. Lind (2016).

The purpose of this course is to provide music teachers with the tools and resources to promote equity and culturally responsive pedagogies in their classrooms. This topic is of particular interest to me as I teach music in a Title I district that serves primarily Black or African American students. At my specific school, 98% of my students live in poverty. I feel that there was not adequate preparation in my undergraduate studies for teaching in a Title I district, specifically within the subject of music, which can often seem inaccessible to those facing economic hardships.

This mini-course will be offered online and will integrate a variety of medias and instructional methods. There will be four units with two lessons each.  

The overarching questions that will be addressed throughout this course are:

  • What is culturally responsive teaching and how is it beneficial for students and teachers?
  • What is equity and what does it look like in education? What inequities are currently prominent in our education system and how does this impact music education specifically?
  • What are some methods, resources, and tools for making music accessible to all students, regardless of factors such as race and socioeconomic background?

Needs Assessment

  • Instructional Problem: Music in schools, typically instrumental music, can often times seem inaccessible to students who do not come from an affluent family. Undergraduate music education programs do not always adequately address how to make music instruction work for all learners, which is essential knowledge for music teachers to have in order to reach all of their students.
  • Learners: Participants will be practicing K-12 school music teachers with a minimum of one year of teaching experience who completed at least one degree in Music Education.
  • Analysis of Gaps: Prior to taking this course, participants will likely have an understanding of the resources required to actively engage as a student in a school music program and further one's experience through outside-of-school practice and taking advantage of additional opportunities. Most likely anyone who is a music teacher was an active participant in their own school music program as a child, and probably engaged with music outside of school. They may also be aware of this due to their current job duties as a music teacher and/or through working with music teacher colleagues. However, unless participants grew up in a low-income household, attended a low-income school district, or faced other obstacles in terms of having resources and support, or witness these issues in their current job, they would likely not be aware of how such factors can greatly impact a child's experience participating in music. Additionally, participants may not be conscious of how many undergraduate Music Education programs teach music pedagogies that are heavily white- and Western-centered, and that the way many of us are taught to teach does not apply to students outside of the white, upper-middle class population.
  • Intent Statement: This mini-course will help participants address their needs and possible gaps in their teacher preparation because it will inform them of teaching practices that are more inclusive to student populations that are directly affected by issues of equity in terms of education, race, and/or socioeconomic status. Participants will gain a better understanding of how to adapt and tailor their music instruction in order to reach all students and ensuring all students are being met where they are.

Performance Objectives

After completing this mini-course, learners will be able to:

  • Describe the need for culturally responsive teaching and specifically why it is needed in the 21st-century music classroom
  • Describe the importance of employing methods and pedagogies that support students affected by equity issues in and outside of school
  • Create a lesson plan founded on ideas of culturally responsive teaching and considering issues of equity
  • Identify contemporary sources and research that support the value of culturally responsive teaching

Course Objectives

Unit 1: Culturally Responsive Teaching

After this unit the participant will be able to:

  • Define culturally responsive teaching
  • Discuss steps needed to understand and implement culturally responsive pedagogies
  • Provide examples of teaching methods that promote and/or support cultural responsiveness
  • Discuss and explain how culturally responsive teaching benefits students

Unit 2: Issues of Equity in Music Education

After this unit the participant will be able to:

  • Define equity and inequity
  • Identify specific examples of inequities that affect children and communities across the U.S.
  • Provide examples of inequities that can impact a child's participation in school music programs
  • Discuss and explain how issues of equity can negatively impact a child's participation and/or engagement in school music programs

Unit 3: Pedagogical Techniques to Foster Cultural Responsiveness & Address Issues of Equity in the Music Classroom

After this unit the participant will be able to:

  • Provide examples of pedagogical techniques that can foster cultural responsiveness in the music classroom specifically
  • Provide examples of ways to address inequities as a music teacher (this can include brainstorming alternative methods to methods traditionally presented by music teacher preparation programs)
  • Identify resources and references to support music teachers and schools in their work towards equity and inclusion

Unit 4: Incorporating Pedagogical Techniques to Foster Cultural Responsiveness & Address Issues of Equity in the Music Classroom

After this unit the participant will be able to:

  • Identify how culturally responsive teaching supports specific 2014 National Music Standards
  • Identify ways in which music teachers could utilize resources and references found in previous unit to benefit their instruction and students
  • Synthesize ideas and concepts from each unit by creating a lesson plan highlighting their learning from the course, that aligns with the 2014 National Music Standards