School of Music


Doctor of Music Education (DME)


Brian Stiffler


music education, vertical alignment, curriculum, communication, student retention, teacher certification, socioeconomic status, musical skills


Education | Music | Music Education


This study examined the effects of vertical alignment on elementary, middle, and high school music programs. Thirty-five (n = 35) elementary, middle, and secondary music educators participated in the study. Of the 35 participants, 41% (n = 15) were high school music educators, 25% (n = 9) were middle school music educators, 27% (n = 10) were middle and high school music, and 2% (n = 1) taught elementary, middle, and high school. Analysis of survey data revealed significant relationships related to vertical alignment. The most significant relationship was between vertical alignment and retention (r = .643, p < .01), suggesting that student retention increases as vertical alignment increases. As well, results indicated that as vertical alignment decreases, the number of students “who wish to continue in music classes but cannot” increase (r = -.530, p < .01). Analysis of open-ended survey questions revealed valuable themes related to consistent band participation, music teacher expectations, and the effect of vertical alignment on music programs. Applying the results of this study may improve understanding of the effects of vertical alignment and enhance effective teaching and learning in music.