The purpose of this multicase, qualitative study dissertation was to describe how the leadership characteristics of the founders of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) inform today’s music educators’ leadership abilities. During the 1907 Keokuk conference the founding members discussed the first set of guiding principles for various subjects within the music discipline including chorus, band, and piano. For this study, the research questions are focused on the similarities in leadership styles of music education leaders past and present. Suggestions for improvement of teacher and administrator leadership characteristics were revealed by the leaders themselves.

Eight public elementary school music teachers and administrators who worked in their capacity between the years of 2000 to 2021 were interviewed by phone and email. The interviews included 15 questions concerning lesson design, leader title, and daily job duties, as well as advocacy work on behalf of the students.

The findings are that each teacher and administrator has similar leadership styles to at least one MENC founder. The teachers and administrators largely relied on the Orff and Kodály methods of teaching music. The founders also borrowed many of their techniques from the Orff and Kodály methods of teaching music. To increase student retention of musical concepts I recommend that districts implement program designs similar to the Congolese National Radio, a program in which students hear their lessons from home through the radio. U.S. students enjoy watching television. Sharing music lessons as extra credit through public broadcast television would promote musical learning for a nation that continues to see a decline in arts funding. Lastly, it is also strongly recommended that online learning is utilized only in crisis occurrences, such as a pandemic.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Leadership; Education, Elementary--Music—Instruction and study; Public schools—United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Leo Mallette