Date of Conferral







John W. Flohr


Public school principals who provide and sustain music in elementary programs are often confronted with budgetary cuts and reduced funding for music education. There is a dearth of research regarding music as an essential element in K-3 education in low-income rural schools. The purpose of this generic qualitative inquiry was to explore and describe leadership practices of principals, who despite fiscal challenges, include and sustain music in the K-3 curriculum in a low-income rural area of a small county in North Carolina. Elliott and Silverman’s concept of praxial music education and Leithwood and Riehl’s philosophy of instructional leadership practices were used for the conceptual framework. Through individual interviews with principals (n = 4) and 3 focus groups with parents (n = 8) from Parent Teacher Organizations of elementary public schools in a low-income rural district, data were collected from a total of 12 participants involved with music education. Participants described the importance of and the criteria for including music in the K-3 program regardless of economic challenges emphasizing the significance of school principals’ leadership practices. Data were analyzed using open coding to find emergent themes. Results suggested that commitment to sustaining music education in the K-3 program comes from evidence of children’s development of creative and critical thinking. Providing opportunities for an enhanced education may create perspectives that lead students to become engaged citizens for a more equitable society. The findings may also encourage educational leaders to find ways to sustain music in educational programs as a contribution to positive social change.