Urban music education: a critical discourse analysis

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In this study, I uncover the coded meanings of "urban" within the music education profession through an exploration and analysis of the discourse present in two prominent music education journals,

In this study, I uncover the coded meanings of "urban" within the music education profession through an exploration and analysis of the discourse present in two prominent music education journals, Music Educators Journal (MEJ) and The Journal of Research in Music Education (JRME). Using critical discourse analysis (CDA), I investigate how the term "urban" is used in statements within a twenty-year time span (1991-2010), and how the words "inner-city," "at-risk," "race," and "diversity" are used in similar ways throughout the corpus. An in-depth examination of these five terms across twenty years of two major publications of the profession reveals attitudes and biases within the music education structure, uncovering pejorative themes in the urban music education discourse. The phrase "urban music education" is rarely defined or explained in the corpus examined in this study. Rather, the word "urban" is at times a euphemism. Based on a CDA conducted in this study, I suggest that "urban" is code for poor, minority, and unable to succeed. Relying on the philosophical ideas of Michel Foucault, I uncover ways in which the profession labels urban music programs, students, and teachers and how the "urban music education" discourse privileges the White, suburban, middle class ideal of music education. I call for an evaluation of the perceptions of "success" in the field, and advocate for a paradigm shift, or different methods of knowing, in order to provide a more just teaching and learning space for all music education actors.