Differences Between Teaching Music in an International School and a U.S. Public School

April 21, 2017 / By: Allison Lyso

The purpose of this research was to identify the differences between teaching music in an international school and in a U.S. public school within the make-up of the student body, experiences of the teachers, and curriculum development.

A mixed methods convergent parallel design was employed. The quantitative portion of this mixed methods approach was collected through a web-based survey on two different social media music educator groups where a total of 64 music educators participated. Simultaneously, the researcher interviewed 13 different music educators via Skype.

The results showed similar findings between the majorities of survey statements and paralleling interview questions asked of both international and U.S. public school music educators. There was one main area of discrepancy between the survey responses and the interview participants. The survey data showed that the majority of international school music educators agree that the cultural make-up of the student body is diverse within their music classrooms and that the cultural make-up of the student body had a significant impact on the way international school music educators teach. However, the results from the interviews reported opposite findings to both of these statements. When the data was disaggregated by years of teaching experience, U.S. public school music teachers with more experience were less likely to agree with these two components than international school music teachers.

One explanation of the results could be that unless teachers have a passion for incorporating culturally diverse music into their teaching, students may or may not experience an internationalized approach to instruction that facilitates international-mindedness, or a globalized approach to music learning. Another explanation could be that if teachers come from Westernized music training, they will teach from this frame of reference, regardless of where they are in the world. To conclude, further research is needed as to how internationalized education is intentionally implemented in both U.S. public school and international school music classrooms, as well as the overall impact international-mindedness plays in the future life and career of students who experience this type of education.