Award Date


Degree Type

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Committee Member

Marina Sturm

Second Committee Member

Richard Miller

Third Committee Member

Thomas Leslie

Fourth Committee Member

John McMurtery

Fifth Committee Member

Norma Marrun

Number of Pages



The foundations for music education in America were built upon Eurocentric values, utilizing both folk and classical music from western Europe to cultivate an American music curriculum that greatly marginalizes non-white students. This long-standing tradition of positioning European music as superior to all others by allowing it to dominate the school curriculum is viewed by some as structural racism. Over the last 50 years there has been significant theory, practice and research into decolonizing the music curriculum and providing social justice for students in the classroom. One method to achieve these goals is culturally responsive music education–a student centered theory of teaching that has proven effective at elevating students’ overall experiences at school, including academic achievement, attendance, and self-confidence. However, progress in music education has been slow due to a specific problem: there is very little representation in music textbooks of the BIPOC community (black, indigenous, and people of color), teaching music classes, or taking music classes. Current research shows all three of these elements are dominated by one ethnic group: white composers, white teachers, and white students. As the demographics of the BIPOC community continue to grow, music educators are advised to adopt a culturally responsive pedagogy to grow their programs, improve retention rates, and sustain their programs for years to come. This document will trace major developments in music education throughout the history of the United States including Colonial America, early 20th century school segregation, late 20th century multicultural education movement, and 21st century theories of culturally responsive pedagogies. Exemplary models of culturally responsive music education are presented for mariachi music, New Orleans brass bands, and Native American music, and resources for professional development are provided.


culturally responsive music education; culturally responsive teaching; history of music education in the U.S.; multicultural music education; structural racism in music education; world music education


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Education | Music | Other Music

File Format


File Size

623 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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