Representation in music: College students’ perceptions of ensemble repertoire

Jason P. Cumberledge, Matthew L. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Culturally responsive pedagogy in music education is becoming increasingly crucial for all students, in all types of music programs, and at all levels of education as demographic shifts occur in schools. In music ensembles, the selection of repertoire is a critical component of culturally responsive pedagogy. The purpose of this study was to investigate student perceptions of repertoire in college music ensembles. This study was guided by the following research questions: (a) Do students perceive current ensemble repertoire as representative and supportive of their self-identities? (b) What are these perceptions according to students’ race or ethnicity, gender, and ensemble type? (c) What factors do students consider important in directors’ selection of repertoire? (d) How are directors’ current repertoire selection practices, as experienced by the respondents, informed by or responsive to gender and racial diversity in the ensembles? Respondents (N = 278) were graduate and undergraduate college students enrolled in band, choir, or orchestra. Data were collected through an online questionnaire. Overall, respondents felt that current repertoire practices were representative and supportive, although male respondents rated composer gender as lower in importance in repertoire selection than both females and those not identifying as male or female. White students indicated that they felt repertoire selection was more representative of their gender than Black, Indigenous, and other students of color. Respondents also indicated a desire for more underrepresented composers in ensemble repertoire. Numerous implications are provided, including the need for an increased focus on culturally responsive repertoire selection processes in teacher preparation programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-361
Number of pages18
JournalResearch Studies in Music Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • culturally responsive pedagogy
  • diversity
  • music ensembles
  • repertoire selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Music


Dive into the research topics of 'Representation in music: College students’ perceptions of ensemble repertoire'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this