Knowledge Practices: Changing Perceptions and Pedagogies in Choral Music Education





Document Type



legitimation code theory, perfectionism, authentic performance practice, ethnomusicology, cultural capital, choral music educators


Preparing choral music educators who are sociocultural pedagogues requires the development of a knowledge base of diverse singing traditions, the meaningful inclusion of culturally diverse content in the choral curriculum and rehearsal, and thoughtful adaptation in the delivery of instruction that shows a sensitivity both to the learners and the represented music cultures. The purpose of this case study was to analyze the outcomes of a newly designed graduate course for choral conducting students as they engaged in singing traditions from marginalized and lesser-known music cultures. The research focused on inequities in music education based on race, ethnicity, and music cultures that have resulted in asymmetric power relationships between choral directors and students. I applied Maton’s (2016) Legitimation Code Theory (LCT), a research framework inspired by Bourdieu’s (1986) work with “rules of the game” and Bernstein’s (2000, 2003b) work with knowledge codes. LCT allows examination of knowledge practices and can be used to shape teaching practice and curricular content. The research was guided by the following questions: (a) what beliefs do music educators hold about repertoire and music cultures that they do and do not include in their choral curricula in relation to the place and time in which they teach, and (b) what can be discovered regarding successful pedagogical strategies based on knowledge and knower structures. Two relevant themes emerged including the impact of cultural elitism in the choral conducting community with subthemes of perfectionism and concerns related to performance practice, and the development of a refl ective praxis.

Published in

International Journal of Research in Choral Singing

Citation/Other Information

Howard, K. (2020). Knowledge practices: Changing perceptions and pedagogies in choral music education. International Journal of Research in Choral Singing, 8, 2-21.

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