Effects of intercultural music courses on ethnic identity, intergroup attitudes and national identity among adolescent students from a multi-ethnic area in Southwest China: A mix-methods intervention study


Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


China is a multi-ethnic country inhabited by 56 ethnic groups. Owing to diverse histories, cultures and customs, the ethnic identity and intergroup attitudes in each ethnic group vary. This may cause misunderstandings in inter-ethnic communication, thus triggering unnecessary ethnic conflicts, especially in the southwestern region of China, which possesses the nation’s greatest ethnic and cultural diversity. Hence, understanding the daily relations between different ethnicities and enhancing ethnic identity and intergroup attitudes among them may contribute to the cohesion of Chinese society. Music can serve as a bond or a bridge to facilitate mutual understanding and tolerance between and within ethnic groups. Scholars have addressed the value of music on ethnic identity, intergroup attitudes, and national identity; few have used intercultural music courses as a means of promoting identities and attitudes. Prior studies in China also indicated that music courses in multiethnic schools pay little attention to students’ diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Therefore, this mixed-methods intervention study aimed to examine the impact of an intercultural music course on ethnic identity, intergroup attitudes, and national identity among adolescent students from Yi, Han, Mongolian, and Tibetan groups in a multi-ethnic school in southwest China. In light of musical identity theory and culturally responsive pedagogy, the repertoire of intercultural music courses is taken from the four local groups (Tibet, Yi, Mongolian and Han) and taught by a local music teacher in Putonghua and ethnic languages. This study collected qualitative and quantitative data before, during, and after the intervention, investigating to what extent and how intercultural music courses has affected students’ identities and attitudes. Research tools included field notes, autobiographical notes, observational protocol, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, reflective diaries, and questionnaire surveys. The results found that intercultural music courses (intervention groups two and three) significantly enhanced the ethnic identities, intergroup attitudes and, national identity of adolescents from Yi, Han, Mongolian and Tibetan. In contrast, the regular music courses (intervention group one) and the courses without music (non-music group) did not significantly affect students’ identities and attitudes. The qualitative findings further explained that ethnic music and native languages, a local music teacher, a close relationship between students and teacher, and collective musical engagement might play essential roles in students’ identities and attitudes formation. This study provides the following theoretical implications. First, for ethnicities with a long history and unique spoken and written language, musical identity and ethnic identity are interdependent and interconnected. Second, intercultural music courses can influence the six dimensions of intergroup attitudes, namely interests in music, understanding of culture and history, inter-ethnic communication, contrast and reflection, reducing ethnic stereotypes and enhancing intercultural understanding, and awareness of the importance of unity and cohesion. Third, intercultural music courses can indirectly enhance students’ national identity. This study recommends that (a) multi-ethnic schools should hiring native music teachers who are familiar with ethnic cultures; (b) ethnic language and local music should be included in the school music curriculum; (c) music teachers should develop an intimate relationship with students and invite local cultural bearers as guest teachers. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • MATSUNOBU, Koji 松信浩二, Supervisor
  • LEUNG, Bo Wah 梁寶華, Supervisor
  • YANG, Yang 楊陽, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Ethnic identity
  • Intergroup attitudes
  • National identity
  • Musical identity
  • Intercultural music course
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2021.


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of intercultural music courses on ethnic identity, intergroup attitudes and national identity among adolescent students from a multi-ethnic area in Southwest China: A mix-methods intervention study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.