Winter 1-31-2023

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Chien-Tzu Candace Chou

Second Advisor

Sarah J. Noonan

Third Advisor

Douglas C. Orzolek


High school bands and orchestras in the United States reflect the rampant educational opportunity gap when it comes to the representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) student populations, denying talented and passionate students the opportunities intrinsic to instrumental music participation (IMP) (Bradley, 2007; Elpus & Abril, 2011; Kozol, 2005; Salvador & Allegood, 2014; Stanford CEPA). The study’s purpose was to understand how BIPOC students successfully participated in high school instrumental music (IM) ensembles. Using the theoretical lenses of Maslow’s (2015) hierarchy of needs and Freire’s (2013) critical pedagogy, this study asked: How do teenage BIPOC IM students experience, and make meaning of, their public-school IM journeys? Including, Who supported them?; What were the transitional points of decision?; What were the IM bonds that kept them participating? Using a constructivist phenomenological approach, this qualitative study interviewed 12 BIPOC high school graduates of a Midwest metropolitan area to learn how they made meaning of their IM journeys. Several common themes emerged. Participants’ IM journeys were supported by family, peers, and IM teachers. Transition points included high school entrance, structural crises, and exclusionary experiences. IMP bonds to continuing IMP included mood, social connection, self-esteem/challenge, aesthetics, and agency themes. Recommendations include investment in equitable, culturally responsive IM programming and recruiting; targeted guidance and bridging strategies for high school IM transitions, private lessons for advanced students of low SES, the use of collaborative student-centered teaching strategies and culturally relevant literature; and targeted, caring anti-racist polices and strategies toward inclusion.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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