Abstract

All students deserve access to quality music education and qualified music teachers prepared to teach them; however, there are some gaps in the field's knowledge of how all students across the United States are served in music education. One such knowledge gap is focused on middle level (fifth through eighth grade) music learning, a critical period in both student and program development. This national survey aimed to understand the status of middle level music education at public and public charter schools throughout the United States and its territories during the 2020–2021 school year. Of the 2,749 responding schools, 29.52% offered no middle level music learning opportunities while schools offering music learning reported an increase in choral experiences and a decrease in general music and orchestral experiences as students move from fifth to eighth grade. More than 80% of the responding music teachers identified as White and more than 60% identified as women. In addition, more than three fourths reported feeling underprepared for middle level music teaching. Our findings present a national portrait of available music learning opportunities, music teacher demographics, and music teacher perceived preparation for fifth through eighth grade. While hopeful for many school communities across the country, our findings also raise important questions for future research and for the preservice and in-service preparation of middle level music educators.

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