Since the early 20th century, gospel music has become increasingly popular in the United States. The popularity is making it appealing to perform in public schools. However, many choral and general music educators did not experience the tradition during their formative years and/or have not received training or background in its instruction.
The purpose of this collective case study was twofold: (1) to document the experiences of three music educators who were learning about and teaching gospel music to their students for the first time and (2) to reveal characteristics of the mentoring process related to the needs of these teachers and their diverse music education settings. Three music educators participated in this study, and the researcher served as mentor.
A workshop was held so that the music educators could observe how the mentor teaches gospel music. The researcher conducted several interviews and multiple observations, collected field notes, videotapes of observations, documents, emails, journals, and questionnaires, and provided feedback to the music educators. Data was coded using NVivo 8, and member checks were conducted. Each music educator's experience was presented in first person dialogical portraiture.
Teachers with varied backgrounds were able to teach this style in an authentic way by calling upon their strengths as music educators. Music educators encountered challenges with teaching religious music in secular school settings and were able to negotiate these challenges in a variety of ways. They were able to implement culturally relevant pedagogical practices when integrating gospel music into the curriculum. In secular school settings, gospel music strategies (the aural learning and oral teaching traditions) looked different than they did in sacred settings. In addition, gospel music skills (vocal parts, accompaniment, conducting, energy, movement, and improvisation) might look different than they do in sacred settings. As a mentor, the negotiation of multiple roles proved to be challenging.
Implications for music education are offered to music educators, gospel choral directors, and teacher preparation programs, and recommendations for further research in gospel music pedagogy, mentoring, and music education are given.