Alternative Music Ensembles: Justifications, Implications, & Applications to a Suburban High School

August 10, 2018 / By: Alyssa Ellson

High school music programs in the United States do not represent the full diversity of the school population. Studies have found that the average high school music student is likely to be white, female, high-achieving, a native English speaker, and from a higher socioeconomic status. Researchers have suggested that the traditional large-group performing ensemble model does not appeal to the underrepresented community of students. In recent years, secondary music programs have offered alternative courses to the traditional large-group performance-based ensembles of band, choir, and orchestra. Studies show that these alternative music courses have increased enrollment for underrepresented populations, especially if the course is based on popular music or is culturally specific. The purpose of this project is to examine and consider alternative performing ensembles at the secondary level. The findings will help to provide justifications, implications, and suggestions for the development and implementation of alternative popular music and culturally specific performing ensembles.