Counterspaces in band programs: experiences of African American female band directors at the secondary level
Williams, Krista Faye
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine how African American female band directors create and utilize counterspaces for African American female musicians to share collective and individual experiences, maintain involvement, form positive self-definitions about themselves, and to counter intersecting forms of oppression in bands. In this study, I also examined the African American female band directors’ perceptions about counterspaces in bands. To illuminate the experiences of the 17 African American female band directors who participated in this study and their use of counterspaces as an activist response to resist intersecting forms of oppression perpetuated within the band world, Black feminist thought (BFT) as a framework was employed. The following research questions guided this study: (1) What are the African American female band directors’ perceptions and knowledge about counterspaces, and how do they utilize counterspaces to counter intersecting forms of oppression that African American female musicians face in bands?; (2) How do the African American female band directors utilize counterspaces to help the African American female band students form positive self-definitions about themselves, and to share their individual and collective experiences of involvement in bands?; and (3) How do counterspaces help African American female band directors understand common themes in the lives of African American female musicians that contribute to their sustained involvement in bands? The findings of this study revealed that counterspaces are essential for countering the perpetuation of intersecting forms of oppression and negative stereotypical images of African American females. This study further revealed that counterspaces functions as a mechanism where African American female band directors are able to foster the interconnected dimensions of self-definitions, collective and self-empowerment, and oppositional consciousness among their respective African American female band students. This study also provided insight into the current status of African American females within the field of instrumental music education in the U.S and dimensions of power structures that are continuously perpetuated to negate African American female’s equal stance within the field.
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