Research Paper on Music in Schools

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1761 Words
Date:  2023-01-15


Almost everyone enjoys music whether listening to it, playing an instrument or singing. Despite this universal interest in the art, many schools do not include music and art programs in their curriculum, yet existing evidence suggests that music and art subjects can enrich student's education and lives (Respress& Lutfi, 2006). Benefits are even profound for at-risk high school students. At-risk students are considered to have a higher risk of failing academically or even dropping out of school. These students face difficult circumstances that jeopardize their capability to compete in schools such as teenage pregnancy, homelessness, transiency, serious health issues or learning disabilities or any other conditions that might adversely affect the educational performance and attainment of learning objectives (Wilson, Kauffman, & Purdy, 2011). This section examines existing literature on the benefits accrued from music and art programs for high school students at-risk. The benefits range from social, academic outcomes, emotional, psychological, mentorship, health and behavioral management.

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Literature Review

Studies have shown that in small isolated group studies, students who have participated in the arts education program (band) have shown more positive academic and social outcomes as opposed to those students who do not participate those programs (Catterall, 2012). Research shows that music, whether listening, singing or playing an instrument, offers several benefits for individuals. Music helps in the development of language and reasoning because, individuals who access early musical training develop the areas of the brain whose functioning is related to reasoning and language. In particular, music enhances the left side development of the intelligence and help imprint information on younger minds. Music engages an individual's memory which in turn trains skill of memorization which can benefit the individual in education. Also, music instills a sense of achievement. When music is taught in school, students will be learning to play it on a new instrument each day; although it might be challenging, the goal is achievable. Upon learning to play pieces of music on different instruments, the student will feel proud of the achievement which enhances their spirit of aiming higher. Further, the author established that music improves learner's coordination since it engages various senses and parts of the body. The author also established that music helps learners to enhance their work since it encourages the development of craftsmanship skills that further stimulate creativity among learners (20 Important Benefits of Music in Our Schools, 2014).

Worcel, Keyes, and Naegele (2017) developed a report at the research department at the Oregon Community Foundation as part of the evaluation process of the studio to school initiative. The evaluation was aimed at assessing the effectiveness of the initiative in expanding arts education opportunities for youth through the development of sustainable, high-quality and equitable education programming. The authors believe that youths deserve a well-rounded education that would equip them with tools to survive and thrive socially. Through a review of the existing evidence, the authors realized that advances in arts learning lead to the development of social competencies, higher motivation, engagement, and self-esteem, enhancement of mental habits that contribute to academic success, and overall higher academic achievement. Arts such as dance positively impact on learners' social and emotional learning. Visual arts education, on the other hand, benefits students through higher achievements in other subjects like science. Arts education efforts enhance the community engagement in the broader perspective (Worcel, Keyes, and Naegele2017).

Cornwell and Rushton (2012) conducted a study on the importance and challenges facing arts education today. Through a systematic review of the literature, the authors established that there are social benefits students can earn from participation in arts. Students in arts program access an outlet in which they can express themselves and attain a social identity. At risk students involved in arts programs achieve higher self-esteem and develop pro-social attitudes and behaviors. Catterall and Waldorf (2002) performed an evaluation summary of the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) with the intent of examining the relationship between learning arts and student achievement as well as social development. The authors learned that CAPE programs in public schools invited local artists and teachers into partnerships. As a result, they collaborated in creating curricular units whereby an art form is integrated with academic subjects. When they compared such schools with other public learning schools, they learned that CAPE schools performed better on standardized tests than their counterparts who studied subjects that lacked an art form in them. This evidence shows that integrating arts into other subjects has an added advantage to the learner which goes further to stimulate learning and understanding that eventually results in higher test scores.

Catterall (2012) examined civic and academic behavior outcomes of young adults and teenagers who have been intensely engaged in arts in or out of school. In an attempt to enhance the literature on the instrumental benefits of arts on education among the youths, the author used four large national databases to analyze the relationship between involvement in art programs and social and academic achievements. This involved tracking learners who were involved in arts since their early years in school and examining positive outcomes in their later lives. The participants were drawn from a low socioeconomic status that is perceived to be at-risk. The study found that a history of in-depth arts involvement among the teenagers and young adults of low socioeconomic status had better academic outcomes than those who did not participate in arts. For example, eighth-graders who were intensely involved in arts during their kindergarten and elementary education exhibited higher test scores in writing and science. Students who had higher arts experiences in high-school were more likely to complete a calculus course. Similarly, students who were deeply engaged in arts during their high-school education ended up with higher GPAs than those who did not. It was also observed that students who earned fewer or no art credits in high school were five times likely not to graduate than those who had art credits. Regarding civic engagement, Catterall (2012) found that young adults who were actively engaged in art experiences in high school were likely to exhibit civic-minded behaviors unlike those who did not experience any art programs in high school. The author concluded that there exist correlations between arts involvement in high school among at-risk youth and future academic performance and civic engagements. Therefore, arts can be used to narrow the gap existing in academic achievement and civic engagement among students from low socioeconomic status and those from high socioeconomic status. Arts can be seen as a tool for empowering disadvantaged youths to achieve higher academically and upgrade their standards from previous generations.


The school system has a budget that is allocated towards numerous school components. Furthermore, the band program is not a priority of the school system's allocated budget which financially hinders the overall band program. Most public-school music programs can be expensive to operate causing parents and students to be on edge about participating. If the school music program is underfunded and the students who attend the school are from lower income families, it is be extremely difficult for the school to provide instruments and other necessary resources for these students. Furthermore, this can cause band programs to fail in state music evaluations and hinder students from acquiring money from college band program recruiters. Ultimately, higher-income, higher-educated families will, on average, provide their youth with more opportunities to experience the arts through extra classes, lessons, or opportunities for attendance, perhaps through more affluent schools with extensive arts programs (Catterall, 2012).These benefits impact the whole human development (psychologically, emotionally, academically and wellbeing). Psychologically, arts and music programs help students to enhance their self-confidence, meta-cognition, imagination, and creativity. It also enhances their attentiveness. Emotionally, arts and music programs improve the learners' self-esteem, tolerance, increased emotional resiliency, persistence and good attitudes towards school and learning. There are also increased social competencies, engagement, and motivation. Academically, arts and music programs improve student's grades and higher scores on standardized tests. It also improves their language skills such as writing and spelling as well as mathematics and science mastery. Finally, music improves health and well-being among the at-risk students through aiding their coping mechanism and behavior management.

The purpose of this research was to reveal several benefits of arts and music programs in school for at-risk students in high school by describing, examining and analyzing the academic, social and civic behavior among students in grades 9th-12th that attend Booker T. Washington Senior High School and are involved in some aspect of the band/music program. The aim is to investigate whether the art and music programs are being enrolled in the class or participating in the afterschool band/music activity.

Research Questions

  • What are the positive/negative effects of at-risk students in Title 1 schools being involved in band programs.
  • How does being a part of an underfunded band program impact students in the community?
  • What is the likelihood of band students going colleges/universities?


Prior to the school semester beginning, all school employees participated in the open house. Open House was a meeting for all parents and students to come and see who their teachers were for the school year, along with getting acclimated with the school's climate. The band/music staff and I took pride in open house because it gave us a chance to meet and interact with students who were interested in being in the band/music program, along with getting to know their parents. Additionally, parents and students were able to fill out information cards which allowed them to express interest in the instrument that they played, ensembles they would like to be a part of, and their overall interest in the band/music program at Booker T. Washington High School.

When the initial school semester started, I began by implementing some form of observational research for each student. I observed each student's individual music abilities. In doing this, I individually auditioned students who were interested in being in strictly band classes, along with students who chose to be in the after school ensembles. When auditioning students, I not only observed their musical/playing abilities, I observed their attitude, motivation, and overall body language. Ultimately, these auditions told me how students who wanted to be active in other ensembles conducted themselves, along with students who were just interested in being in band classes. During the semester, I observed how both kinds of students (band class students &students in multiple ensembles) acted towards the overall band program.

To understand the importance of this research, one must know the demographics of the High School. The school is a Title 1 school. T...

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