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Alternative Title

Critical inquiry of American high school concert band repertoire

Publication Date


First Advisor

Andrea Moore

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Music, Education, Identity, Representation, Multiculturalism, Multicutural education, Peace education, Repertoire, Concert band, Music education, Wind ensemble, Composers, Students, Teachers, Interculturalism, Canon


As scholarship in multicultural education burgeoned in the eighties and nineties, educators and activists pushed for curricular reform to better serve students of all backgrounds and identities. Multicultural theorists emphasized the importance of students’ ability to “see themselves” in the classroom. They argued that educators must incorporate perspectives of all cultures — especially those present in their classroom — into their instruction, taking particular care to lift the voices of marginalized groups whose histories are often overlooked in standardized curricula. Unfortunately, music has failed to keep up with other curricular areas in the integration of multicultural education. Through the lens of critical interculturalism, I will investigate this issue in the context of the largely homogenous American concert band repertoire. I will argue that music education should offer its students a new avenue for self-expression, ultimately cultivating an empowering sense of both group and individual identity. The whitewashed, male-dominated school band repertoire (which I will refer to as the “K-12 Canon”) that I have perceived in my studies and personal experience stands at odds with this purpose. I plan to illustrate this point through a two-pronged presentation of programming habits in high school concert bands: a hypothesized description based on my own work with school bands, and a presentation of data which compiles repertoire performed since 2014 at high school All-State bands nationwide. I will identify what cross-section of America is being represented in these works, what values are translated through their programming, and most importantly, whether they serve broader goals of identity development and empowerment. I will conclude this thesis by exploring some potential alternative approaches to concert band repertoire selection which might better serve a diverse, “multicultural” American classroom.


©2019 Cas Ford Martin. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




v, 58 pages. Includes bibliographical references (pages 53-58)