An Investigative Case Study of the Challenges and Benefits Surrounding Rural Music Education

April 23, 2019 / By: Kari L. Moskal

Rural school districts are often victims of declining enrollment, lack of funding, teacher shortages, and increasing student poverty. These difficulties can lead to several challenges for rural music educators and their respective departments. How rural music educators respond to these challenges can impact the success or failure of the music department and the students who participate.

The purpose of this collective case study informed by transformative research was to identify the challenges and benefits of teaching in a rural school district in an attempt to generate ideas that allow rural music educators to meet the needs of their students more effectively. In addition, this study sought to fill a gap in the literature surrounding culturally responsive teaching in rural music classrooms by investigating the particulars of the rural culture. To do this, a collective study using multiple cases was used to compare and provide insight into the issues surrounding rural music education.

Findings indicated that rural music educators do encounter several challenges including teacher turnover, small ensembles, scheduling, access to professional development, inadequate facilities and equipment, and time management. The benefits identified were personal connections, teacher autonomy, and a sense of belonging in the community. Research coupled with findings in responses to challenges determined that culturally responsive teaching would be beneficial in a rural setting.