Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


Music Education and Music Therapy (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Stephen F. Zdzinski

Second Committee Member

Joyce A. Jordan

Third Committee Member

Robert H. Gower


The purpose of this study was to determine the status of composition as a teaching tool in the US and UK and to compare the findings of the two countries. In order to achieve this purpose, the following research questions were formulated: How common is the teaching of composition in US and UK schools? How does composition compare to other classroom activities in US and UK schools in terms of instructional time, variety, and emphasis? What kinds of compositional activities are used most frequently? What reasons do teachers cite for teaching or not teaching composition in their classrooms, and how do these reasons differ by country? How do teachers overcome challenges to composition and how do these practices differ by country? For each country, what combination of teacher characteristics best predict the use of composition as a classroom teaching technique? Data were collected using an online survey instrument developed by the researcher based on that used in a more localized study by Strand (2006). Findings were based on responses from three hundred and nine participants from the UK (n = 117) and the US (n = 192). Results indicate that composition teaching is far more prevalent in the UK, with a greater variety of activities, focus on experience and creativity, group work and integration with other curriculum areas. US composition teaching is characterized by notation-focused highly-prescriptive tasks, with the favored mode being individual composition. Needs identified include: a greater provision of technology in US music classrooms, more extensive training and support for UK general teachers who teach music and the further promotion of composition in the US, highlighting its integration with listening and performing in order to provide a more rounded curriculum.


National Standards; National Curriculum