Minority Students in the Music Performance Program

December, 1994

Michelle Watts, Ph.D., Coordinator of Data Analysis
Department of Assessment, Accountability, and Evaluation, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Tampa, Florida
Christopher Doane (doane@arts.usf.edu), Ph.D., Professor and Director, School of Music
University of South Florida, Tampa
George Fekete, Consultant
University of South Florida

Abstract

This study was an assessment of the degree to which minority students were included in the performing musical arts program in a large Florida county school district and the strategies that teachers used to recruit and retain these students in schools where there was a high degree of minority participation.

Overall, minority students were found to participate in the music performance program at a rate comparable to the ethnic distribution of the student population. The greatest percentage of music programs with similar minority student participation occurred at the middle/junior high level. Class-based strategies were used most frequently by those music teachers with similar rates of minority students while the use of family-based and school-based resources was not a common practice of the music teachers.

Major recommendations of the study were to: (1) continue to encourage music teachers to include minority students in the music program, (2) consider the development of training activities on those strategies that were found to be used frequently by teachers with high rates of minority student participation and, (3) focus training for music teachers in the areas of family and school-based strategies to encourage a greater participation rate of minority students.

Introduction

The issue of minority student participation in school music performance program is an area that deserves careful examination in view of the increasing diversity in student populations that characterizes many public school programs around the country. Issues in diversity and teaching to a multicultural student population are found as topics in much of the professional literature in both general education and music education. The importance of this information becomes clear when considering the issues that are raised by such reports. For example, Hamann and Walker (1993) cite statististics from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education that indicate that 16.2% of public school children are African-American, while 9.1% are children of Hispanic background. These figures are also reflected in the general population according to 1990 Census Bureau figures. More importantly however, such proportions of the population will not remain static. Current minority groups in the population will become majorities in the total populations of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas by the year 2000 according to figures from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (Hamann and Walker, 1993).

While issues in diversity and world musics have been a part of the music education profession for many years, the rapidly changing complexion of many music classrooms in public, private, and postsecondary educational institutions have begun to make arguments for inclusion in the music curriculum more compelling and timely. But to what extent are minority students currently participating in music programs? Part of an answer to this question comes from an analysis of recent data released as part of a study by the U.S. Department of Education known as the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988. In his analysis of these data Steven Morrison reported that of the 13,000 students providing usable information for the analysis, about 22% reported active involvement in school band, orchestra, or chorus programs. When compared to the ethnic composition of the sample, white students and African American students participating in music programs were found to be over-represented by 4% and .4% respectively, and Hispanic students were under-represented by approximately 3.8% (Morrison, 1994).

Part of the debate concerning the role of diversity and multi-culturism in the music education program centers on the concern displayed for accomodating increasingly diverse student populations in the music classroom through the selection of materials, music, and activities that represent a wider view of musical tradition and practice than the traditional Eurocenetric view. While there are undoubtedly some educators more comfortable teaching to a homogeneous student population, the truth is that such a population, if it ever really did exist, no longer represents the reality of the contemporary classroom. The implications of a continued ignorance of the important issues involved in the training of future music teachers, the organization and delivery of programs, and the missed potential of students who are not brought into the life of the school music program are becoming clearer (see, for example, The Quarterly Journal of Music Teaching and Learning, Vol. IV, No. 2 subtitled "Has Music Eduation Turned Its Back on Minorities?"). The inclusion of a broader range of musics of the world brings a new richness to the music classroom and brings a greater sense of cultural representation to the music education enterprise

The study was designed to investigate the involvement of minority students in the school music performance program and to gather information from teachers concerning the strategies employed to recruit and retain minority students. The evaluation centered on the following four questions:

  1. To what extent do minority students participate in the school music performance programs?
  2. Is the participation rate of minority students different at elementary, middle/junior high and senior high levels?
  3. What strategies are used by music teachers when there is a high degree of minority student participation in the music performance program?
  4. Are different strategies used by the music teachers at the elementary, middle/junior high, and senior high level to encourage minority student participation in the music performance program?

Procedures

Data Collection

The study was conducted in a large urban school district in west central Florida. For the purposes of this study, the music performance program was defined as groupings of students whose primary function is the preparation and presentation of music for public performance. These ensembles may be vocal, instrumental, or combinations of voices and instruments. Further, minority students were defined as students of African-American and Hispanic background. In order to determine the representation of these students participating in the music programs, the ethnic distribution of students in the music performance programs was calculated using the district data base. Students enrolled in the music performance program at the secondary level were coded in the district data base and the ethnic distribution of the music program could be determined. Elementary students were not specially coded, therefore, elementary music teachers were asked to provide a list of current students participating in music performance ensembles at their respective schools in order to determine the ethnic characteristics of these students. The distribution of African-American and Hispanic students participating in the music program was then compared with the ethnic distribution of the total school population.

A total of 35 elementary schools, 27 middle/junior high schools and 14 senior high schools was included in the sample. Because of the smaller number of schools relative to the total number of elementary schools, all secondary schools were included in the study. However, elementary schools and teachers were selected to take part in the study based on sampling procedures which consisted of the division of the school district into five geographic areas, the random selection of seven schools from each area, and a review of each school to ensure that a balanced ethnic distribution of students were present. Schools with a distribution of students that matched that of the district were included in the study and each music teacher at the selected school was surveyed.

Information to determine the types of strategies teachers employed to encourage and retain minority students in the music program was obtained by the administration of a survey instrument to selected music teachers. The survey was administered to all middle/junior high and senior high music teachers and a sample of elementary music teachers. The results of the music survey were computed for the different school levels and for those schools with an ethnic distribution in the music program that was similar to the ethnic distribution of the school to determine the strategies most frequently used by these music teachers. A total of 48 surveys were returned, representing a 63% overall return rate.

Instrument Development

The Music Survey was developed to collect information on the frequency with which music teachers reported the use of strategies to include minority student participation in the performance program. The survey included several questions in each of three areas: family- based resources, school-based resources, and class-based resources.

The questions related to family-based resources focused on strategies that music teachers may use that involve the parents of minority students in the music performance program. School-based resources incorporated teacher actions such as using guidance services, contacting students and feeder program teachers, and arranging transportation for students. The final area of the survey, class-based resources, addressed practices that teachers could use as a part of their instructional delivery including music selection, individualized instruction, and peer coaches. The survey also included an opportunity for the music teachers to identify any other strategies that they have found effective in recruiting and retaining minority students.

Results

Question 1: To what extent do minority students participate in the music performance program?

The ethnic distribution of the sampled elementary schools and the music program are presented in Table 1. The table also includes the difference between the school ethnic distribution and that of the music program. A negative difference indicates a greater percent in the music program than in the school population while a positive difference indicates the reverse. Differences of five percent and more were regarded as important. A total of 18 elementary schools returned the student data for analysis. Of these schools, eight reported similar ethnic distributions in the school and the music program, four schools reported fewer minority students, and three schools had a greater representation of minority students in the music performing program than existed in the school student population. Three schools had a mixed representation of minority students. Two schools had a greater percent of black students and a smaller percent of Hispanic students in the music performing program than in the student population. The opposite was observed in the other elementary school. Therefore, of the 18 elementary schools that were analyzed, 11 (61%) had a similar or greater representation of minority students participating in the music program when compared with the student population of the school.

It should be noted that the three elementary schools with greater minority student participation had a very small number of white students in the music performance program. It may be likely that these schools did not include non-minority students in their listing, therefore, the data may be incorrect. Each of these schools were contacted to obtain further information, but two of the three schools did not respond and the third school supplied additional information that appeared to have not included non-minority students for a second time.

Table 1 Ethnic Distribution of the School Population and the Music Program: Elementary Schools

The ethnic distribution of the middle/junior high schools and the music program is displayed in Table 2. As with the elementary schools, a comparison was made to determine if the representation of minority students in the music performance program was similar to the ethnic distribution of the school population.

Seventeen middle/junior high schools were determined to have a similar minority student distribution in the music program as in the total school student body. Seven middle/junior high schools were found to have an under-representation of minority students. Two schools had mixed representations of minority students with higher percentages of African- American students and lower percentages of Hispanic students. Thus, at 17 of the 26 (65%) middle/junior high schools minority participation was similar to the percentage of minority students in the total student body.

Table 2 Ethnic Distribution of the School Population and the Music Program: Middle/Junior High Schools

The participation of minority students in the performing music program at the senior high level is presented in Table 3. Of the 14 high schools in the district, 8 (57%) were found to have a similar ethnic distribution in the music program and in the school. There were three senior high schools that had fewer minority students participating in the music program than would be expected based on the student population. Three schools were found to have a mixed representation of minority students in the music program. In these locations there were greater percentages of black students and smaller percentages of Hispanic students in the music program when compared with the student population.

Table 3 Ethnic Distribution of the School Population and the Music Program: Senior High Schools

Minority Participation at Different School Levels

Question 2: Is the participation rate of minority students different at the elementary, middle/junior high and senior high levels?

The participation rate of minority students varied according to the grade levels contained at the school. Table 4 includes a summary of the participation rate for the different school levels. Middle/junior high schools had a greater percentage of programs with similar minority student participation than did the elementary and senior high schools. Greater minority student participation, however, was most prevalent at the elementary school level.

Overall the participation rate was not markedly different at the different school levels. Twenty-two percent of the elementary, 27% of the middle/junior high schools, and 28% of the senior high schools were found to have less minority participation than expected based on the composition of the student body.

Table 4 Minority Participation at Different School Levels

Question 3: What strategies are used by music teachers when there is a high degree of minority student participation in the music performance program?

The results of the music survey were computed for those music teachers at schools with an ethnic distribution in the music program that was similar to or more than the ethnic distribution of the school population. The mean results for the elementary, middle/junior high, and senior high are presented in Table 5. The number of teacher responses summarized on Table 5 differs from the number of schools identified as having a similar ethnic distribution. These differences may be due to multiple music teachers at the school or teachers who did not identify their school on the survey. The means were computed using the following scale:

  1. = Most of the time
  2. = Frequently or often
  3. = Sometimes
  4. = Rarely
  5. = Never

The strategies used most frequently by the elementary music teachers included: personal contact to encourage minority students, special recognition and awards, selection of performance music, use of culturally sensitive pedagogy, and incorporation of sectional and small group rehearsal into music preparation. These strategies had mean scores under 2.0 indicating that they were used frequently or most of the time.

The middle/junior high teachers with a representative minority population in the music program most frequently used personal contact to encourage minority students and the incorporation of sectional and small group rehearsal into music preparation. With a mean score under 2.00, these strategies were reported by the teachers to be used frequently or most of the time.

Table 5 Music Survey Means of Music Programs with Similar School and Music Program Ethnic Distributions

Table 5 also includes the results of the music survey for the senior high teachers with a similar school and music program ethnic distribution. The strategies used most frequently included:

  1. encouraging the parents of minority students to assist in fund raising activities.
  2. contacting feeder school teachers to identify minority students who have shown an interest in the music program.
  3. personal contact to encourage minority students.
  4. individualized instructional approach for the student.
  5. use of peer coaches in the classroom and for extra help.
  6. incorporation of sectional and small group rehearsal into music preparation.
  7. use of special motivational programs for individual students.

Based on these findings, the high school teachers were found to use a greater variety of strategies than did the elementary or middle/junior high school teachers.

Two strategies were used by each school level group with a high rate of frequency. These strategies included personal contact and small group rehearsals. The most frequently used strategies by those teachers with a high rate of minority student participation were more likely to be class-based resources. The use of family-based resources occurred less frequently.

Question 4: Are different strategies used by the music teachers at the elementary, middle/junior high, and senior high level to encourage minority student participation in the music performance program?

Family-Based Resources

Table 6 presents the results of the Music Survey Family-Based Resources questions for all teachers responding to the survey and for each school level. The most frequently used strategy was using car pools and special transportation arrangements for minority students. The mean for the total group of teachers was 2.5 indicating the teachers used this strategy frequently or some of the time. The strategy reported by teachers to be used least frequently was using parents as tutors. The mean for all teachers was 3.8 which can be interpreted as rare use.

Table 6 also includes the mean results for each school level grouping to allow comparisons to be made between teachers of different levels. Differences were not observed between the school levels in the use of car pooling, parents as tutors, or monitoring family-based music performance. There were differences, however, in the rate at which elementary teachers reported parent involvement with organizational details and fund raising. The middle/junior high and senior high teachers reported more frequent use of parents in these areas and also more frequently reported contacting parents by phone to encourage student participation.

Table 6 Family-Based Resources Mean Results for Teachers and for Each School Level Grouping

School-Based Resources

Table 7 presents the results of the Music Survey School-Based Resources questions for all teachers responding to the survey and for each school level grouping. The most frequently used strategy by the total group of teachers was personal contact to encourage minority students. The mean of 1.9 indicates frequent use of personal contact. Strategies reported by all teachers to be used least frequently included using school based data to identify minority students to contact for inclusion in the music program (mean 3.4) and using the guidance counselors to help contact minority students (mean 3.3). These means indicate that these strategies were used sometimes or rarely.

Table 7 also includes the mean results for each school level grouping to allow comparisons to be made between teachers of different school levels. Differences between the school levels were observed in all categories. The middle/junior high and senior high teachers reported more frequent use of guidance counselors and feeder school teachers to contact and identify minority students interested in the music program.

Elementary school music teachers reported more frequent use of arranging activity buses to transport students, school-based data to identify minority students interested in the music program, personal contact to encourage minority students, and special recognition and awards.

Table 7 School-Based Resources Mean Results for Teachers and for Each Grade School Grouping

Class-Based Resources

Table 8 presents the results of the Music Survey Class-Based Resources questions for all teachers responding to the survey and for each school level grouping. The most frequently used strategy was the incorporation of sectional and small group rehearsal into music preparation (mean 1.9). The strategies that were reported by the teachers to be used least frequently were selection of performance music, use of peer coaches in the classroom and for extra help, and creation of rehearsal tapes for student practice. Each of these strategies has a mean of 2.5 which can be interpreted as frequent or sometime use.

Table 8 also includes the mean results for each school level grouping to allow comparisons to be made between teachers of different school levels. Differences were not observed between the school levels in the selection of performance music, individualized instructional approaches, use of peer coaches, or incorporation of sectional and small group rehearsal into the music preparation. There were differences, however, in the rate at which elementary teachers reported the use of culturally sensitive pedagogy, the creation of rehearsal tapes for student practice and use of special motivational programs for individual students. Elementary teachers reported more frequent use of these approaches when compared with middle/junior high teacher and senior high teachers.

Table 8 Class-Based Resources Mean Results for Teachers and for Each School Level Grouping

Conclusions and Recommendations

Overall, minority students were found to participate in the music performance program at a rate comparable to the ethnic distribution of the student population. The greatest percentage of music programs with similar minority student participation occurred at the middle/junior high level. Class-based strategies were used most frequently by those music teachers with similar rates of minority students while the use of family-based and school- based resources was not a common practice of the music teachers.

Based on these findings, several recommendations seem warranted. First, teachers should continue to encourage minority students to participate in the music program. However, given the differences between teachers concerning the awareness and use of strategies found to be used frequently by teachers with high rates of minority student participation, the development of training activities to familiarize teachers with these strategies is recommended. In particular, training for music teachers may be appropriate in the areas of family and school-based strategies to encourage a greater participation rate of minority students in the school music performance program.