AN ETHNOGRAPHIC CASE STUDY OF ORCHESTRA DIRECTORS AT HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
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The purpose of this ethnographic study is to explore the experiences of orchestras directors at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). While there have been a few studies regarding African American orchestra students in public schools, I am unaware of research that has explored these college level ensembles from the perspective of their directors. Critical Race Theory (CRT) was used as a theoretical framework for this study. Specifically, this study sought to answer the following research questions: (a) What are the experiences of orchestra directors at HBCUs? (b) What are the challenges faced by HBCU orchestra directors, and how do they address them? and (c) How do HBCU orchestra directors describe their successes? I chose five participants based on their reputations as successful directors. Data collection included audio-recordings of semi-structured interviews and observations of the directors at their respective campuses. Data were coded and analyzed for emerging themes, and trustworthiness was ensured through member checks, peer review, and data triangulation. Themes that emerged included (a) "Striving for Excellence": the determination of these directors to continue striving for the best from their students, (2) "General Lack of Funds": the shortage of funds for student scholarships and resources, (3) "Do Everything": these directors have limited assistance and wind up doing almost everything for their ensemble, (4) "Teaching Strategies": different approaches regarding how to help students grow musically, (5) "Recruitment Activities": recruitment challenges especially with the shortage of high school orchestras in their areas, and (6) "Critical Race Theory and the world of HBCU orchestras": racism and its effect on orchestra participants and their students. Based on these findings, I recommend that HBCU orchestras receive more support both inside and outside of the African American community. The directors of these programs perform heroic feats within the reality of multiple limitations. Though they are not as well-known as the HBCU bands and choirs, these orchestras and their directors offer a unique glimpse into a fascinating world that future researchers should also explore.