Martina Vasil

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


School of Music

Committee Chair

Janet Robbins

Committee Co-Chair

Sharon Hayes

Committee Member

Sandra Schwartz

Committee Member

Molly A Weaver

Committee Member

Christopher Wilkinson


The purpose of this study was to examine the practices and perspectives of music teachers who integrated popular music and informal music learning practices into their secondary school music programs. A primary goal was to understand music teachers' perspectives on the process of enacting change. The data for this parallel multiple-case study were four semi-structured interviews, two school site visits and observations, documents, and a researcher journal. The content of teachers' interviews was synthesized in the form of four narratives. Teachers' pathways to becoming more reform-minded were marked by shifts in professional identity away from teacher-centered, autocratic mindsets toward student-centered, democratic approaches to music teaching and learning. The change process was natural for teachers. The tensions that typically surround popular music, informal music learning practices, and secondary music education (i.e., institutional constraints, music teachers' uncertainty, music teachers' views of popular music, and limited resources and professional development opportunities) were minimal for teachers in this study. Thematic analysis revealed eight characteristics of effective teacher-initiated change in secondary music education: (1) holistic and gradual change processes, (2) teacher reflection and inquiry, (3) teacher autonomy, (4) enabling institutional factors, (5) use of a variety of supportive networks, (6) student-centered pedagogy, (7) teacher-selected professional development, and (8) a balance of structure and chaos and formal and informal music learning practices. Teachers demonstrated the power of local change centered on democratic, student-centered practices and serve as exemplars for how K--12 teachers can step into traditionally structured music programs and create educational experiences for their adolescent students that are more relevant and engaging than what is currently being offered in many secondary music programs in the United States.