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Music Teachers’ Perceptions of Undergraduate Music Education Curricula: A Quantitative Survey of Current Music Teachers




Smith, Natalie

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Curriculum and Teaching


This dissertation examined current music teachers’ perceptions of their undergraduate music education program. I gathered data through an online survey completed by current K-12 music teachers. I recruited participants through the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) State Associations, my personal contacts, and social media. A total of 270 music teachers completed the survey. I employed quantitative methods in the survey through data derived from Likert-scale items and three hand-coded open-ended list questions. I gathered information needed for this study using the web-based survey generator, Qualtrics. I divided the survey into five sections based on the four music competencies necessary for music teachers as listed by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), with an additional section based on field experience and other areas of 21st-century teaching. These include: (a) Conducting and Musical Leadership; (b) Arranging; (c) Functional Performance (including instrumental, keyboard, and vocal performance); (d) Analysis/History/Literature (NASM 2022); and field experience/21st-century teaching. I addressed the following research questions: 1. What are current music teachers’ perceptions of how well their undergraduate music education programs prepared them to teach each of the music competencies in the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) handbook? 2. What are current music teachers’ perceptions of how well their undergraduate music education program prepared them to teach 21st-century music concepts? 3. What are current music teachers’ perceptions of the amount of field experience during their undergraduate career? 4. What concepts/curricular areas do current music teachers feel were most and least valuable to their success in teaching music? 5. Which demographic variables, if any, have significantly different responses to survey construct items? I analyzed data through quantitative methods including descriptive, frequencies and percentages, inferential statistics, t-test, and ANOVA. Descriptive statistics revealed participants overall felt somewhat unprepared to prepared in each of the construct areas based on their undergraduate music education preparation program. Participants felt skills methods (instrumental, vocal, etc.), conducting, and level methods (elementary, secondary) were of most value to their career in teaching music. General education courses (i.e., math, science, foreign language, etc.), skills methods, and music history were listed as the least valued courses to participants’ success in teaching. Courses participants felt would be beneficial to be added or expanded within the undergraduate music education curriculum include classroom management, modern music technology, instrument repair, and more. There were significant differences in participants’ responses to the area of conducting, and to the area of functional performance based on participants’ preparation type. Significant differences were also found in responses to the arranging construct, based on years of teaching experience. Recommendations for future research include replicating this study with a larger and more diverse population. Researchers could also explore specific curricular items as opposed to the broad study of all curriculum, or other music degrees. This study could be adjusted for music teacher educator participants, or undergraduate music education major participants. The results of this study could inform undergraduate music education institution administrators and professors of ways they can reform their program to better prepare preservice music teachers. Keywords: undergraduate music education, music teacher preparation, teacher perception, curriculum, 21st-century teaching, quantitative, survey