ABLE Assembly: Arts Better the Lives of Everyone 2021 | Theme: Intersectionality, Disability, and Arts Education ABLE Assembly: Arts Better the Lives of Everyone 2021 | Theme: Intersectionality, Disability, and Arts Education

Pre-recorded 20-minute Session: A DisCrit Perspective on Music Education: Considerations for Intersectional Change

- EDT
YouTube 4

Erika Knapp
Michigan State University

Erika Knapp is a 2nd year PhD student in Music Education at Michigan State University. She taught elementary and middle school music for 13 years before pursuing her doctorate and is an Orff Schulwerk pedagogy teacher for AOSA. Her research interests include students with dis/abilities, intersectional identity, and teacher professional development.


The way teachers engage with dis/ability and race in their classrooms is often linked to their underlying belief systems and substantial evidence connects teacher beliefs and perceptions to the reification of hegemonic norms (Annamma, 2015b; Heroux, 2013). One contributing factor is a systemic cultural incongruence between teachers and students of color and those with dis/abilities, which solidifies deficit perspectives (De Matthews & Serafini, 2020). The majority of the teacher workforce is white and able-bodied and “lack prolonged, ongoing interaction with people of color and therefore develop misinformed, deficit social and cultural perspectives of racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse students” (Warren, 2015, p. 573). Music education is not immune to this and educators need to consider how they might be contributing to this problem.

DisCrit, or Dis/ability Critical Race Theory, is a theoretical framework that combines dis\ability studies and critical race theory to examine how “race and ability are socially co-constructed and interdependent” (Annamma, et al., p. 5). Using DisCrit as a framework, this session explores issues in music education such as pre-service teacher education, curriculum design, and instructional materials to suggest ways music education programs might make changes towards greater equity for students.

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