Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

James R. Austin

Second Advisor

Steven Bruns

Third Advisor

Martina Miranda

Fourth Advisor

David A. Rickels

Fifth Advisor

Lori Ryan


The purpose of this survey study was to explore the extent to which elementary general music teaching practice is congruent with three key characteristics of the Reggio Emilia approach: documentation, hundred languages, and child as protagonist. I also considered whether variance in the congruence of elementary general music teaching practices with the concepts of documentation and symbolic translations might be explained by music teacher education level or the degree to which they report being influenced by major general music pedagogies.

I emailed the Characteristics of Elementary General Music Teaching survey to a stratified, cluster sample of elementary general music teachers in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. Respondents (N = 280) completed rating-scale and selection-type items that reflected the concepts of documentation and symbolic translations. Descriptive statistical analyses were used to examine the extent to which respondents’ reported teaching practices were congruent with the Reggio Emilia approach. I then reduced data (informed by exploratory factor analysis for the symbolic translations items) into reliable, multi-item subscales that supported the use of two statistical approaches to explain variance in teaching practice congruence: multiple regression analyses (estimating variance in congruence explained by influence of general music pedagogies) and factorial ANOVA (comparing group differences in congruence based on college and general music pedagogy education). Lastly, I used inductive coding to analyze narrative responses—addressing the Reggio Emilia-inspired concept of child as protagonist.

Overall, study participants reported teaching practices that reflect some congruence with the Reggio Emilia approach. They collect some student artifacts, display evidence of student learning in certain forms, adapt instruction based on observation of students, provide students opportunities to translate between symbolic systems, and demonstrate a student-centered approach to music education by modifying their teaching practices at the student, class, grade, or developmental level. However, the range, extensiveness, and sophistication of these practices was limited, suggesting an incomplete or tenuous congruence. Variance in the congruence between teaching practice and the concepts of documentation and symbolic translations could not be explained by education level or general music pedagogical influence. In addition, Implications for elementary general music teachers and music teacher educators are discussed.