Culturally Responsive Teaching for General Music Teachers


Fall MECA Online Courses
All Fall MECA online courses
are generally held from
Sept. 20 through Dec. 12, 2021,
unless specified.


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Culturally Responsive Teaching
for General Music Teachers:

Bringing Back Joy, Curiosity & Wonder
in Teaching & Learning

September 20–December 12, 2021

This course is specifically designed to address the needs of teachers and students impacted socially, emotionally and academically over the past 18 months as instructional design, curriculum, teaching and learning have been impacted even as the level of cultural consciousness has increased. This course offers general music teachers specific strategies, ideas, and resources to navigate the year by simultaneously focusing on culturally responsive teaching and collaborative learning while retaining the playfulness, curiosity, joy and wonder essential to music making and music learning.

In this course:

  • Teachers will examine their own as well as their students’ needs as they journey together through the school year and plan accordingly.

  • Teachers will explore and design activities framed in culturally relevant and responsive teaching, use purposeful inclusion strategies for collaborative learning, examine criteria for curating folk songs, chants, dances, stories and poetry.  

  • Teachers will compose/arrange, create, design lessons and facilitate instruction that uses cultural information and processes to scaffold learning, to emphasize communal orientation, and to focus on relationships, cognitive scaffolding, and critical social awareness.

  • In addition to movement, dance, body percussion, songs, poems, games, stories and chants, teachers will use ideas provided for using award winning children’s literature to design lessons and assessments that are framed in responsive teaching.

  • Teachers will become familiar with terms and approaches like culturally relevant pedagogy, multiculturalism, social justice education and standards, social emotional standards, diversity and inclusion and more.

  • Teachers will design differentiated performance tasks for assessment to evoke creativity and higher order thinking skills, create meaningful rubrics that assess learning, and structure feedback for growth and proficiency. These will include activities for classroom percussion, barred instruments, recorders, drums, ukuleles.

  • Teachers will refer to works by authors, researchers and organizations dedicated to the impact of culture on education and discuss applications and implications if any in their own practice.

Instructor: Manju Durairaj

Durairaj,_Manju_headshot_2012Manju Durairaj (MMEd ‘03) was born and raised in India. She studied in London, England, and was involved in graduate research projects on comparative pedagogical practices of Indian (carnatic) and Western Music. Durairaj is certified in Orff Schulwerk, having completed her levels training at VanderCook, George Mason University, University of St. Thomas, and at the Orff Institute in Salzburg, Austria. She currently teaches PreK-5 general music at the Latin School of Chicago. She is president of the Greater Chicago Orff Chapter, has presented at ISME, AOSA, OAKE, ILMEA, ECMMA, MKMEA and NAfME (formerly MENC), and has been published in the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education.
Culturally Responsive
Teaching for General Music Teachers: Bringing Back
Joy, Curiosity & Wonder in
Teaching & Learning

Course Code 6311

Manju Durairaj

3 Graduate Credits

$1,065, due in full with registration

Chat Sessions
Classes will meet on Zoom on Monday 6 p.m. - 7:15 p.m. CDT. These will be recorded for those teachers who have excused absences.


Required Text(s)
Culturally Responsive Teaching
and the Brain

by Zaretta Hammond

Responsive Classroom for Music,
Art, PE and Other Special Areas

Reference Materials:
Music Education and
Social Emotional Learning

by Jacqueline Kelly-McHale,
Jared Rawlings & Scott Edgar

Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice
by Geneva Gay

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy 2.0:
aka The Remix

by Gloria Ladson-Billings

Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning for Justice
in a Changing World

by Django Paris & Samy H. Alim

Software/Hardware Requirements
Internet access is required.

MECA Online
is powered by Schoology

Schoology is a learning management system that allows you to interact directly with your instructors, fellow students, and members of the greater VanderCook community.

Fall 2021 MECA courses officially begin on Monday, Sept. 20. Soon after you register, be on the lookout for an email from Schoology with log-in instructions. Once you receive credentials, visit to login. On the morning of Sept. 20, you'll have access to your classroom and course material.

Some courses have specific online chat meeting times (please see course descriptions), while others have a flexible meeting schedule. You can expect all courses to meet together in a live online chat. If a live meeting time doesn’t work, you can work with your instructor to make other arrangements.

Online grades will be reported by mid-January. If you need a transcript, please visit the online transcript request page. For faster turnaround time, please submit the transcript request to the registrar prior to the end of your course(s).

More information about Schoology can be found at


VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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