Dissertation Abstract

Intercultural experiences can result in increased knowledge of and positive attitudes towards unfamiliar cultural groups (Neto, Pinto, & Mullet, 2016; Vuoskoski, Clarke, & DeNora, 2017). Deardorff’s (2006) intercultural competence process framework provides a method for exploring and categorizing elements of intercultural competence including attitudes, knowledge/skills, internal outcomes, and external outcomes.

This narrative instrumental case study examined the perceptions of one middle school choir teacher, choir students, the student teacher, the parents, and the vice principal when implementing a researcher-designed unit titled: Religious Choral Music from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Worlds. The choir teacher offered a unique perspective as an atheist amongst a large Christian majority. However, her training, solely in the Western classical tradition, informed her programming practices. She avoids programming religious music from a global perspective due to (a) concern over authenticity, (b) her need for choral success, and (c) a lack of resources. She also expressed fears about implied indoctrination, stereotyping, and generalizing, but demonstrated a receptive attitude towards the music unit. The students’ Muslim, Buddhist, Agnostic, and Christian perspectives provided examples of how students can contribute to meaningful discussions about religious music. They appreciated learning about diverse religious music and also expressed concerns over social justice issues related to religious minorities. The issue of the word god in patriotic music arose unexpectedly in data collection and students clearly positioned themselves as appreciative, indifferent, or opposed to the use of the word god in these songs.

When examining participants’ movement through Deardorff’s (2006) intercultural competence framework, the process was complex, amorphous, and continuous. The teacher, students, and student teacher demonstrated respectful, open, and curious attitudes towards unfamiliar religious music and increased their knowledge of unfamiliar religions. However, students’ internal and external behaviors varied. Sometimes participants demonstrated an increase in intercultural competence, such as expressing empathy, while also showing indifference towards learning about other religions. Based on these findings, teachers might consider: (a) explicitly teaching multiple religious perspectives when programming, (b) working towards a complete, nuanced awareness of laws and policies regarding the use of religious music in schools, and (c) intentionally incorporating a global perspective within group singing.

Recent Research Projects

Action research study on the effects of music at nap time (Spring 2017)
Title: The Effects of a Bestselling Children’s Naptime Recording on the Time to Rest Among Preschool Children Enrolled in a University Child Care Center
Research Tasks: For a class project I helped to design this single-subject experimental study, collected data using an ABA withdrawal design (baseline, intervention, and reversal), and analyzed the data using a planned orthogonal contrast, ANOVA, and Scheffé post-hoc in SPSS. 

Descriptive study of the use of music during nap time (Spring 2017)
Title: A Descriptive Study of the Use of Music During Naptime in Childcare Centers in Louisiana
Research Tasks: For a class project I helped to design and distribute a questionnaire that examined the sleep habits, genres, usage, and perceptions of music surrounding naptime at childcare centers in a Southern U.S. State.

Exploratory case study of two choral music teachers (Fall 2016)
Title: "I Mean, You’re Christian...Right?”: Perceptions of Religious Music in the Public Schools.
Research Tasks: Performed semi-structure interviews, analyzed concert programs, coded transcripts with values and in vivo coding, triangulated interview transcripts and concert programs, and utilized member checking.

Recent and Upcoming Research Presentations

Society for Music Teacher Education Symposium, Minneapolis, MN (2017)

This September I presented at the Society for Music Teacher Education Symposium. My session offered suggestions on how to address the topic of religious music from a laws and policy perspective with pre-service music educators. Attendees then participated in a research-based discussion on approaching religious music from a world and multicultural perspective with best practices in mind. Click here to download the full proposal. 
Click here to download the handout.

Below is the video I created to open my SMTE presentation

Mid-South Music Education Research Symposium, Oxford, MS (2017)

Last February I presented a paper at the Mid-South Music Education Research Symposium titled, "I Mean, You’re Christian...Right?”: Perceptions of Religious Music in the Public Schools. The purpose of this exploratory qualitative case study was to gain a deeper perspective of the perceptions of two middle school choir teachers who used religious music in their curriculum. Data collection involved two semi-structured interviews, which focused on the teachers’ experiences programming religious music. Click here to download the abstract. 

Publications and Papers

Mercado, E. M. (In Press). Popular, informal, and vernacular music classrooms: A review of literature. Update: Applications of Research in Music Education.

Brunkan, M. C., & Mercado, E. M. (2017). A comparison of laboratory and virtual laryngeal dissection experiences on pre-service music educators' knowledge and perceptions. Manuscript submitted for publication. 

Isbell, D. S., Mercado, E. M., Casselberry, J., & Kyakuwa, J. (2017). A descriptive study of the use of music during nap-time  in childcare centers. Manuscript submitted for publication. 

Mercado, E. M. (2014). Creating Meaningful Student Growth S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Oregon Music Educator Journal, 66(1), 24-25. 

Mercado, E. M. (2013). Programming Music Your First Year. Oregon Choral Focus. Retrieved from http:// oregonacda.org/article-Mercado-4-27-13.html.     

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 2.33.09 PM.png


2018 National Association for Music Education Music Research and Teacher Education Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 2.11.24 PM.png


2017 National Symposium on Music Teacher Education, Minneapolis, MN.

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 1.57.19 PM.png


2017 Louisiana Music Education Association State Conference, Baton Rouge, LA.



2017 Mid-South Music Education Research Symposium, Oxford, MS.


2016 Louisiana Music Education Association State Conference, Baton Rouge, LA.