An Investigation Into Themes Resulting from the Perceptions of Women Teaching Secondary Instrumental

July 6, 2011 / By: Sarah M. Minette

The intent of this research is to explore the current perceptions of women educators teaching instrumental music at the secondary level, (6-12). This research seeks to describe and understand (1) the current perceptions on female instrumental educators; (2) if perceptions of female instrumental educators have evolved; (3) how role models play a part in the success of an educator; (4) if women believe they are more successful with a female role model; and (5) if desires to raise a family conflict with the desire to teach instrumental music at the secondary level.

Data for this research project was gathered through a survey of 208 female secondary instrumental educators in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and a focus group of eight female secondary instrumental educators in the Twin Cities Metro area. Survey participants answered a variety of forced- choice and open- ended questions. Based on the answers and comments provided in the survey four themes emerged that the researcher analyzed and summarized: (1) Middle School Perceptions versus High School Perceptions; (2) “The Good Ol’ Boys Club”; (3) Personality Types; and (4) The Balancing Act of Being an Educator and Parent. Similarly, based on the discussion that took place within the focus group, two themes emerged (1) Personality types and Discipline; and (2) The Balancing Act of being a Mother and an Educator.

Results from the research revealed that women acknowledge the struggles they battle with as being the main child caregiver at home and the demands of being a secondary instrumental instructor. Additionally, contrary to previous research completed on the importance of gender specific role models, women are more concerned about the quality of a role model versus the gender.  Additional research on the importance of mentors versus role models is suggested as a way to further support young music educators, male and female. Finally, this research should be replicated in other regions of the United States to see if perceptions differ from the Mid-West.