Twenty-two years ago, I became the Director of Instrumental Music at Northland High School in Columbus, Ohio, where I directed the district’s largest band and orchestra program. This experience teaching in an under-resourced arts program as a white teacher of students of color led me to interrogate issues of marginalization that systematically excluded students like mine from equitable access to arts education.

The unfortunate reality is that, within schools today, the greatest access to the arts is provided within our most well-resourced schools for our most well-resourced children, provoking profound questions of equity and marginalization that often follow racial and socioeconomic lines. My research centers the experiences of those who have been historically marginalized within music education, including music teachers in large urban districts such as Chicago, students of color in undergraduate programs of music education across the US, music teachers who incorporate culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies, and women band directors and scholars at the secondary level. I am continually motivated to highlight issues of marginalization within the arts as I remember the stories of the incredible yet underserved students with whom I had the honor to work so many years ago.

Arts education is not a luxury for students in our society- rather, the arts are an essential way that human beings have always made sense of the world around them. To dismantle structural racism in the arts is to ensure that all students have access to a quality arts education that recognizes the work of artists of color as central to the curriculum.

Kate Fitzpatrick is Associate Professor of Music Education and acting Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs for the SMTD. Fitzpatrick is an active and prolific researcher, examining the experiences of those who have been historically marginalized within music education. Her research has been published in the Journal of Research in Music Education, Research Studies in Music Education, the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Contributions to Music Education, the Music Educators Journal, and the Journal of Mixed Methods Research. Her book, Urban Music Education: A Practical Guide for Teachers, was published in 2015 by Oxford University Press.