A qualitative study of music teachers' beliefs about the teaching of composition
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While research has touted the educational benefits of music composition in the classroom, studies have also revealed the numerous difficulties teachers encounter in its inclusion. From lack of time and materials to lack of training and confidence, teachers have struggled to incorporate composition in their lessons. At the same time, a body of research also has suggested that what teachers believe about a subject can have significant bearing on what they teach and how they teach it. This multi-case study looked at three teachers to investigate what they believed about music composition, where those beliefs originated and how those beliefs may be expressed in their classrooms and use of composition. The results revealed the significance of early music influences with family and church music directors, a strong connection to identity through music, and the importance of the sharing and peer teaching of music. There was a distinct bias for European forms and standard notation that eclipsed other ways of knowing, understanding, and expressing music. Other than jazz, forms of improvisation were often viewed as childish or primitive. The teachers most likely to find success in the use of composition in the classroom were flexible, and able to align their beliefs about music education, the efficacy of their students and themselves, with their beliefs about composition and what it can offer.