Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Dana L. Fox, Ph.D. - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

David E. Myers, Ph.D. - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Joyce E. Many, Ph.D. - Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Patrick K. Freer, Ed.D. - Committee Member


Repertoire comprises the curriculum of school music ensembles, yet its selection by music educators is unsystematic, commonly influenced by publishers, and lacking in thoughtful critique (Budiansky, 2005; Forbes, 2001). Research reports that musical worth and pedagogical value are foremost criteria in repertoire selection (Devore, 1989; Ostling, 1978). This ethnographic research explored relationships between musical worth and pedagogical value in works and perspectives of Emma Lou Diemer and Alice Parker, two prominent female composers whose extensive catalogs include music written for educational settings. Data were collected via methods consistent with qualitative inquiry. Smith’s (2003) Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was employed to facilitate co-construction of the composers’ lived experience through personal interviews. Data analysis also incorporated previous texts written about and by the composers, and three choral works of each composer. In this study, Panofsky’s (1972) method of visual art analysis was applied to musical analysis. Findings were presented within single-case and cross-case narratives. Although the composers’ work and perspectives are distinctive, their perceptions of musical worth and pedagogical value transcend their individual qualities. Criteria for creating art for educational settings include: using text as a basis for creating musical meaning, recognizing and emulating the work of composers that they find exceptional; and engaging in an artful, synergistic treatment of musical elements. Diemer and Parker share the belief that longevity, originality, expressivity, and sustained interest are characteristics of music of worth. They offered authentic engagement, holistic learning, and matching skill with challenge as integral aspects of pedagogical value. The motivation that compels Diemer and Parker to compose is both external and internal, and is more oriented toward process than product. In creating works for educational settings, they internalize parameters applicable to specific learners and settings. A “spark” they experience in the creative process indicates the origin of musical worth. Pedagogy derived from and integral to the musical worth of a work allows musically engaged students to recreate the “spark” and thus realize pedagogical value. Within the works and perspectives of Diemer and Parker, musical worth and pedagogical value become unified as a composite whole, though the “spark” is realized in a cyclic process.


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