This study collected a representative sample of current grade 6-12 school orchestra directors' incorporation of alternative styles in the curriculum. It examined directors' repertoire selection process and their potential influence on student engagement, motivation, and retention, with a specific interest in alternative styles. Alternative styles in string education that are included in this study are contemporary pop, folk, bluegrass, rock, Irish fiddle, jazz, and world music. Participants were recruited in the study through two private Facebook groups for school orchestra directors (School Orchestra and String Teachers, and Orchestra Teachers) and two communities on Reddit pertaining to music teaching (r/MusicEd and r/MusicTeachers). This thesis explored the development of Western European art music for string instruments, how it became the dominant category of music in school orchestra curricula in the turn of the twentieth century, and particular challenges directors face when including alternative styles in the 6-12 string curriculum. This study analyzed District and State Music Performance Assessment (MPA) criteria and the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS) for the Arts in the state of Florida to see if there was evidence of the Western European art music canon in Florida's string curriculum at the 6-12 grade level. The music list accepted for MPA heavily skewed towards Western European art music, especially for higher ensemble classes: AF, AS, BF, and BS. A breakdown of these ensemble classifications is outlined further in this thesis. Despite this, most participants reported incorporating alternative styles in their respective programs, with some expressing reservations regarding difficulty of alternative styles of music and discomfort on the part of the director. Participants reported typical levels of enthusiasm from students when directors included alternative styles of music. Some reported specific factors that affect student enthusiasm, such as the arranger of the piece and their involvement in repertoire selection. This study includes a repertoire list of alternative styles of music recommended by its participants.


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Graduation Date





Miller, Kelly


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities


School of Performing Arts

Degree Program





CFE0009525; DP0027531





Release Date

May 2023

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)