Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


College of Music and Dramatic Arts

Document Type



Kids’ Orchestra (KO) is an afterschool El Sistema-inspired program in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a Title I school district, which employs a high percentage of musicians who identify strongly as performers. During the 2017-2018 school year, 52 of 59 KO teaching artists were considered professional musicians with training in music performance, with no educational background and/or prior experience in music education.

The recent development of ESI programs across the United States has fostered claims of using music education as a way to bring social change to the community it works in. Research exploring the specific nature of the pedagogy in these types of programs has become a necessity. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to create a portrait of two professional musicians who are teaching artists at KO and explore how their strong performer identities influence and impact their pedagogy and teaching styles.

In this qualitative instrumental case study, I observed, interviewed, and co-reflected with two teaching artists who were professional musicians and from vastly different cultural backgrounds. Kevin and Paulo are both male, one from the U.S. having grown up in traditional American large ensembles while Paulo grew up in Venezuela as an active participant in El Sistema orchestras before attending college in the U.S. Both participants had been placed as teaching artists for KO for at least two full academic years and were actively involved in the Baton Rouge music scene.

Findings revealed that the two participants’ performance identities manifested in several different ways. Kevin’s main goal for his percussion class was music literacy while Paulo valued the social aspects of music making over technique and literacy. Both teaching artists had trouble giving their students feedback and described a disconnect between having fun and learning music. Finally, I describe the two ways in which the participants differentiated instruction in their classes with varied ages and ability levels: the “helper” and part differentiation.



Committee Chair

Stanley, Ann Marie