Music Education and Student Self-Concept:
A Review of Literature

Jeanne Wrasman Reynolds

Pinellas County Schools


There is tremendous interest in student self-concept in education today. Low self-esteem is believed to underlie a myriad of diverse problems such as academic underachievement, academic overachievement, drug addition, violent behavior, teenage pregnancy, and criminal behavior (Adler, Cohen, Houston, Manly, Wingert, & Wright, 1992). Sweeping educational reform movements such as multi- culturalism and cooperative learning are motivated, at least in part, to improve student self-concept (Ames & Ames, 1978; Aronson, 1977; Hale-Benson, 1986; Johnson, 1981; Kirkland-Homes & Federlein, 1990; Slavin, 1982). As a result of this wide-spread interest, the body of educational research literature pertaining to self-concept has grown to vast proportions. Currently, there are over 10,000 scientific studies of self-esteem measured by more than 200 different tests (Adler, et al., 1992).

The wealth of educational literature regarding self-concept contrasts sharply with the scarcity of research regarding music education and self-concept. The general education community's interest in self-concept should not be ignored by music educators. Students' willingness to participate in music programs might be influenced by their self-concepts or, at minimum, by their music self-concepts. Furthermore, when music programs become threatened in times of financial hardship, research investigating the relationship between music education and self-concept may influence decisions regarding the continuation or termination of music programs.

This article summarizes an extensive review of literature pertaining to the relationship between music education and self-concept (Reynolds, 1992). The literature review will be summarized by discussing representative research findings and describing the conclusions which were drawn based on the review. The discussion will be divided into five sections: (1) self-concept definitions, models, and measurement, (2) self-concept of music ability, (3) the relationship between general self-concept and music education, (4) implications of the existing research, and (5) recommendations for future research.

Literature selected for the review was limited to studies which specifically investigated the relationship between music education and student self-concept, or related literature which augmented these studies. The procedure used to identify studies for review involved several steps: (a) a review of music education journals, (b) a search of the ERIC data base using various combinations of pertinent descriptors regarding music and self-concept, self-esteem, attitude, etc., (c) a review of Dissertation Abstracts International, 1980-1992. (d) a review of bibliographies of the previously mentioned sources, and (e) a review of the entries and bibliographies found in the Encyclopedia of Educational Research (5th ed.) regarding music education, affective education, and motivation. Additionally, in order to augment this research, general educational psychology literature regarding self-concept of ability and beliefs about the causes of success and failure was selected for inclusion.

Self-Concept Models, Definitions, and Measurement

Many of the difficulties associated with self-concept research can be traced directly to the ambiguity of the term (Wylie, 1974). Complications emerge from the interchangeable use of such terms as self-esteem, self- worth, self-identity, self-acceptance, self-regard, and self-evaluation. In both casual and research contexts, self-concept and self-esteem are not differentiated very clearly. According to Byrne (1984), there is no "clear, concise, and universally accepted operational definition of SC [sic]" (p. 429). For purposes of this article, self- concept will be considered broadly to include the perception of oneself, including one's attitudes, knowledge, and feelings regarding abilities, appearance, and social relationships.

Most researchers reject a strictly unidimensional construct of self-concept because it does not adequately explain behavior in a wide variety of settings. Scheirer & Kraut (1979) suggested that self-concept is a multi-faceted construct and cautioned against oversimplifying the term. They stated that "... self-concept should not be conceptualized as a simple,unitary phenomenon, but as a complex construct, having descriptive, evaluative, comparative, and affective aspects which can and should be discriminated" (p. 141).

Marsh and Shavelson (1985) also conceived of self-concept as a multi-dimensional construct. They stated:

We suspect that self-concepts in specific areas will provide better prediction of most external criterion [sic] than will broad measures of general self-concept, and we contend that the relationship between self-concept and other constructs cannot be adequately understood if the multidimensionality of self-concept is ignored. (p. 121)

Researchers often distinguish between academic self-concept (reading, mathematics, general school concept) and non- academic areas such as social prowess, physical abilities, physical appearance, peer relations, and parent relations (Marsh & O'Neill, 1984). Separating self-concept into constituent parts such as these indicates that how one perceives oneself in one situation does not transfer necessarily to another.

There are several theoretical models of self-concept based on the premise that self-concept is a multi-dimensional construct. One model which has particular relevance to music educators is the compensatory model proposed by Winne and Marx (1981). The compensatory model indicates that aspects of self-concept are related inversely rather than related proportionally or independently. Being highly competent in one area and feeling good about one's performance in that area offsets weaknesses in other areas. Winne and Marx found that students who did not excel academically tended to see themselves as more successful on the physical and social facets of self-concept. This finding seems to suggest the possibility that if one is a good musician, this musical area of expertise might contrast with, and could possibly make up for, a lack of athletic, academic, or social prowess. There is ample anecdotal evidence which suggests that some music teachers strongly believe that music classes give academically unsuccessful or athletically unsuccessful students a place to succeed (Reynolds, 1991).

Because there is no consensus regarding the definition of self-concept, measurement instruments vary widely in their conceptual organization. In particular, there is tremendous diversity in the instruments used to measure self-concept in studies which explore the relationship between music education and self-concept.

One of the decisions investigators must make in designing measurement instruments is whether to use self-reports, behavioral measures, or some combination of both. Discrepancies between self-reports and observer reports challenge the popular notion that evaluations of self are merely the product of how others see us. Shrauger and Schoeneman (1979) reviewed studies investigating the relationship between self-reports and the judgment of others, and concluded that "there is no consistent agreement between people's self-perceptions and how they are actually viewed by others" (p. 549).

In order to investigate the relationship between music education and self-concept, music educators often select major self-reporting instruments such as the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (Coopersmith, 1967), the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (Fitts, 1965), or the Piers-Harris Children' Self-Concept Scale, (Piers, 1984) as well as observation and case study approaches. While the Tennessee Self-Concept scale and the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory have been used widely by music educators, these general instruments do not include sections that measure music self- concept. There are, however, a limited number of instruments which have been designed to test music self- concept. The Self-Concept in Music (SCIM) by Svengalis (1978) and the Self-Esteem of Music Ability Scale (SEMA) by Schmitt (1979), are instruments directed toward this end.

The SCIM (Svengalis, 1978) includes 36 items, to which a subject is asked to respond either "yes" or "no". Fifteen of the 36 items are concerned with singing. Other questions deal with music memory, skill of reading and writing music,composition, and the student's perceptions of how others view his/her musical ability. Additionally, there are items which ask the student to estimate his/her ability to achieve musically.

The SEMA (Schmitt, 1979) is a 43 item instrument designed for students aged 10-15. In general, the statements pertain specifically to music ability as opposed to feelings of general self-worth. The items relate to self-confidence, musical skills and abilities, and feelings of acceptance and reinforcement from parents, teachers, and friends. The correlation between SEMA scores and participation in musical activities was .60.

The relationship between self-concept and achievement is often debated. The common perception that there is a correlation between positive self-concept and achievement is not well established in the research literature. As attractive as this idea is, in a review of dissertations regarding self-concept and achievement, Scheirer & Kraut (1979) concluded, "The effects reported by these studies are strikingly simple to summarize: in no case were changes in achievement unambiguously associated with changes in self- concept" (p. 139). Eccles & Wigfield (1985) stated "field studies suggest that self-concept is not a very powerful determinant of achievement in and of itself" (p.190).

Perhaps the difficulty associated with establishing a relationship between self-concept and achievement is due to the terms themselves. Not only is the meaning of self- concept ambiguous, but also there is a lack of agreement regarding the definition of achievement. As a result, achievement and self-concept measurement instruments are limited by operational definitions of the terms and resulting test designs. These measurements also are influenced by the values held by a particular culture or society. Different individuals, cultures, and sub-cultures perceive achievement differently. For example, a stellar academic record or a reward for model citizenship may do little to enhance (or be the result of) a nonconformist's self-concept.

Self-Concept of Music Ability

The notion of a discrete music self-concept is compatible with the majority of multi-dimensional definitions and models previously discussed. In a multi- dimensional model, music self-concept would be a subset of general or global self-concept. For example, in the compensatory model (Winne & Marx, 1981), music ability would be not only discrete from other abilities, but also might be developed as a compensation for shortcomings in other areas. For instance, a good music self-concept might make up for a poor athletic, academic, or social self- concept.

Regardless of the definition or model of self-concept preferred, a student's concept of him/herself as a music student will influence classroom behavior and his/her motivation to participate in music activities (Austin, 1990). There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence supporting the conclusion that the poor music self-concept of many adults can be traced to negative early childhood experiences, such as being asked to be a "silent singer" or not being permitted to participate in a musical ensemble (McLendon, 1982).

The shortage of literature which specifically addresses self-concept in music is enriched by research pertaining to the attributional theory of motivation, and literature regarding self-concept of ability (Bandura, 1977, 1986; Covington, 1984; Dweck, Goetz, & Strauss, 1980; Dweck & Henderson, 1989; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Weiner, 1986).

Attribution theory (Weiner, 1979, 1986) indicates that students' perceptions of the reasons for success and failure determine future behaviors. Outcomes can be attributed to four causes: ability, effort, task difficulty, or luck. Ability and effort are considered to be internal attributes, while luck and task difficulty are considered to be external to the student. Ability and task difficulty are perceived as stable and unchangeable (at least in post-adolescents), while effort and luck are considered to be unstable and subject to change (Frieze & Weiner, 1971). For example, if a student attributes success to effort, he/she is likely to continue to persist when faced with a new challenge. Conversely, if success is attributed to luck, the student is not likely to make greater efforts in the future, nor is this successful outcome likely to influence the student's perceptions of his/her ability.

Self-worth theory maintains that students who equate ability with achievement are more likely to be motivated by the desire to protect their own self-esteem than by the desire to master a task (Covington & Beery, 1976; Covington & Omelich, 1979; Covington, 1983; Covington, 1984; Covington & Omelich, 1985). Covington stated, "failure to maintain a sense of ability triggers shame and a loss of self-respect" (1983, p.50) and that students feel that if they work hard and fail anyway, they lack ability (Covington 1983, 1984). However, if their failure is a result of a lack of effort, their ability status is uncertain and their self-worth can remain intact. In a situation that is likely to threaten a student's self-image, there is a very pronounced tendency to reduce effort.

From this literature there are implications that students with high self-concepts of musical ability and expectations for success will respond persistently to a challenging musical task, whereas students with low self-concepts and low expectations for success will tend to give up on the same musical task (Weiner, 1986). Because music educators presumably are interested in encouraging students to respond persistently to a musical task, the obvious question becomes, how do students develop a positive self-concept of music ability?

The fact that self-concept is not well-defined for young children (Harter, 1982) suggests that self-concept of music ability is malleable in young children. Since self-concept is in the formative stages in young children (Coopersmith, 1967; Harter, 1982), early experiences may have a profound effect on students' music self-concepts. It appears that the time to influence students' self-concept of music ability is in the early years.

Casual observations and anecdotal evidence indicate that a majority of very young children participate eagerly in musical activities. This may be due in part to the fact that effort is valued very highly by young children (Covington, 1983). Young children believe that effort increases ability, whereas older students tend to believe that intelligence, talent, and ability are stable traits, impervious to change through effort (Asmus, 1986; Covington, 1983).

Asmus (1985) conducted a study of 118 sixth-grade students regarding student beliefs about the causes of success and failure in music. The majority of students selected ability and effort to be the major causes for success and failure in music. Whether a student was successful or unsuccessful did not appear to affect the attribution. The large numbers of effort attributions in general supported the theory that effort is valued in preadolescent children (Austin, 1990; Covington, 1983).

Using Schmitt's (1979) Self-Esteem of Music Ability scale (SEMA), Austin (1990) found vast individual differences in 252 fifth- and sixth-grade students' beliefs about ability, skills, desire to perform, and recognition from others. Results indicated that music self-esteem was higher for females, and that music self-esteem scores proved to be a significant predictor of participation in out-of-school or in-school music activities. In an earlier study regarding the effect of music contest format on self- concept, motivation, achievement, and attitude in elementary band students, Austin (1988) found that self-concept in music was enhanced as a result of music contest participation. The researcher randomly assigned 44 fifth- and sixth-grade instrumentalists to a rated solo contest format or a comments-only format. Significant gains in self-concept were made by both groups as measured by the Self-Concept in Music (SCIM) test (Svengalis, 1978), yet only rated groups made gains in music achievement.

Hedden (1982) investigated predictors of music achievement in 144 upper elementary general music students. He found that self-concept in music, as measured by the SCIM test (Svengalis, 1978), was a significant predictor of music achievement.

Klinedinst (1989) conducted a study to examine the ability of 11 selected variables (including self-concept in music) to predict performance achievement, teacher rating of musical achievement, and retention of beginning instrumentalists. The study involved 205 fifth-grade beginning instrumental music students. Self-concept in music, socio-economic status, reading achievement, scholastic ability, and math achievement were found to be valid predictors of student retention in the instrumental program. These studies suggest that music self-concept is related to student participation in music activities. Furthermore, there is limited evidence to suggest that music self-concept may be related to music achievement.

To date, there has not been a significant body of research developed regarding specific music curriculum approaches and their effect on music self-concept. However, there has been some research conducted concerning the relationship between music attitude and curriculum approaches. Although music attitude is not synonymous with music self-concept, researchers have found that attitude, self-concept, and musical background appear to be significantly related (Klinedinst, 1989; Svengalis, 1978).

Pogonowksi's (1985) research regarding a process-oriented music curriculum suggests that students participating in this type of curriculum maintain positive attitudes about music class. A process-oriented curriculum encourages all students to participate actively by providing appropriate challenges involving singing, playing, composing, and listening. It is possible that students' self-concepts of music ability will be affected positively by this type of curriculum. However, in order to make that claim convincingly, further research is warranted.

Among secondary school students there is an increase in the number of ability attributions regarding success and failure in music and a decrease in the number of effort attributions as grade level increases (Asmus, 1986; Covington, 1983). These findings corroborate Raynor's (1981) stages of career striving which indicate that in the early stages of striving a student is "becoming" and places greater importance on effort. When a student reaches Raynor's final stage of "having been," students and adults are more likely to indicate internal stable (ability) attributions in order to protect the ego (Covington, 1983).

In a study involving 589 students in grades 4-12, Asmus (1986) found that 80% of the reasons cited for success and failure in music were attributed to internal causes (ability or effort). A greater number of stable (ability or task difficulty) attributions were cited for success while more luck attributions were cited for failure. Additionally, females cited more ability attributions than males. With age, the ability attributions increased while the effort attributions decreased. Asmus stated that the shift between effort-related and ability-related attributions occurs during the sixth and seventh grades, often the time teachers have difficulty keeping students involved with music.

Chandler, Chiarella, and Auria (1988) surveyed 234 high school band participants and found that students who perceived success and satisfaction with their current level of performance participated more readily in band challenges and attributed their success to natural musical ability, effort, or technical knowledge. Conversely, failure and lack of satisfaction resulted in fewer challenges and more external attributions.

In addition to classroom experiences, it should be noted that societal beliefs potentially affect students' music self-concepts. Societal beliefs impact students' music self-concepts in at least two ways: (a) the degree of importance placed upon musical participation, and (b) gender association and music activities.

In the United States, music does not enjoy the same status as other subjects in the school curriculum as evidenced by such documents as America, 2000: An Education Strategy (United States Department of Education, 1991). The requirements for music instruction do not equal other academic requirements (MENC, 1991). With such minimal demands placed upon students, there seems to be little imperative from the school to develop a good music self- concept in order to be academically or socially successful.

Not only is music less valued than other subjects, but also in this society it is more acceptable for female students to excel in music. Hoffer (1992) stated that, "There has been a long tradition in America that males are supposed to be interested in sports and things like that, not in the arts" (p.720). Research suggests that female students have better attitudes toward music and more positive music self-concepts than male students (Austin, 1990; Haladyna & Thomas, 1979). It is possible that this is a reflection of the societal viewpoint that it is more acceptable for female students to excel in music.

The Relationship between General Self-Concept and Music Education

The popular notion that music has the power to influence general self-concept is firmly established in the educational community (Brandt, 1980; Martin, 1983; McLendon, 1982; Sarokon, 1986; Sunyak & Kaufman, 1983). There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence or philosophical statements describing the effect of music on self-concept. The Tanglewood Declaration states, "Music and other fine arts, largely nonverbal in nature, reach close to the social, psychological and physiological roots of man in his search for identity and self-realization" (Choate, 1968, p. 139). Research which addresses these beliefs falls into three broad categories: (a) music therapy, (b) educational practices, (c) classroom research projects.

By definition, music therapy uses music to accomplish non- musical goals. One of these goals is the enhancement of self-concept. Research studies generated by the music therapy community often involve very specific, atypical populations. As a result, generalizing from these studies to wider populations may be problematic.

The results of music therapy research reports surveyed as part of this research are generally inconclusive. For example, Henderson (1983) conducted a study to determine the effect of 18 one-hour music therapy sessions on the self- esteem, awareness of mood in music, and group cohesion of 13 subjects diagnosed with adjustment reaction to adolescence. Subjects were assigned randomly to either an experimental or a control group. Control group subjects received no music therapy. From pre-test to post-test there were no significant changes in self-esteem for either the control or the experimental groups as measured by the Coopersmith Self- Esteem Inventory (1967). However, anecdotal accounts by the staff members indicated that subjects in the experimental group displayed increased confidence.

Much of the therapy research, as well as some of the educational research, indicated that while traditional measurement instruments did not show any statistically significant changes in self-concept, researchers did observe changes in the subjects' behavior or attitudes (Henderson, 1983; Kivland 1986; Michel and Farrell, 1973, Morrison and Thomas, 1975; Perrine, 1989). This suggests that while a measurement instrument may be appropriate in one context, its use may be limited in other contexts where the researcher's self-concept construct does not match that of the instrument. Other possibilities are that behavioral changes that occur over relatively short periods of time are precursors of eventual self-concept changes not detected by traditional self-concept measurement instruments until much later.

Educational practices often are built on the broad assumption that music enhances self-concept. This is illustrated not only in textbooks, but also in documents pertaining to state educational objectives (Kentucky Plan for Comprehensive Arts in Education, 1981; Montgomery County, 1980; Schumacher, 1981). Additionally, research literature addressing the "at risk" population of students, and descriptive studies regarding the effect of music education on student self-concept often are built on the assumption that music and/or the arts have the ability to enhance self-concept (Barry, Taylor, Walls,& Wood, 1990; Mehuron, 1990; Sarokon, 1986; Smith, 1988).

Draper and Gayle (1987) surveyed 108 early childhood education textbooks published between 1887-1982, with the majority published between 1973-1982. From these textbooks, the reasons cited for teaching music clustered into 10 categories. Several of these categories implied a connection between self-concept and music study. Eleven percent of the authors believed that music instruction helped a child to feel positively about him- or herself. The most commonly cited reason for teaching music, cited by 70% of the authors, was to provide an opportunity for self-expression and creative pleasure.

Like Draper and Gayle (1987), Payne (1990) also investigated beliefs regarding the value of music education. In her dissertation study, Payne surveyed Ohio education personnel, including school superintendents, school board presidents, building principals, and music teachers regarding the justification for music education. Music teachers and school superintendents put a higher value on statements regarding music as aesthetic education than did building principals and school board presidents. Instead, principals and school board presidents selected statements regarding the development of self-esteem as the most accurate statements in describing the value of music education.

Several classroom studies have been undertaken which investigated the relationship between general self-concept and music education (Bragg, 1980; Ford, 1981; Greenberg, 1970; Lillemyr, 1983; Lukitsch, 1987; Murdock, 1991; Perrine, 1989; Whalen and Csikszentmihalyi, 1989). Although the results of much of this research are inconclusive, there are three studies which merit mention here.

The first study describes a pilot project which investigated music attitudes, self-esteem, and socioeconomic status (Nolin and VanderArk, 1977). These researchers found that ninth-grade band and choir students had significantly higher self-esteem scores than non-music students as measured by the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (1967). This research project was important because Nolin and VanderArk suggested that economic status, music attitude, and self-esteem should be considered together.

The findings of this study may provide some limited evidence that the set of circumstances associated with self-esteem development may be more complex than merely teaching music to students in school as compared with students not having school musical experience. (p. 42)

The results of a subsequent study are particularly promising (VanderArk, Nolin, & Newman, 1980). This study investigated the relationships between music attitude, self- esteem, social status, and grade level in 5642 third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students from 16 suburban, Midwestern elementary schools. Rather than investigate only linear relationships, the investigators chose a curvilinear analysis based on the premise that relationships between self-esteem, music attitude, and other variables could be more accurately represented this way. Findings suggested that: (a) there was a significant relationship between sex and self-esteem in predicting attitude toward music activities, (b) middle social status students had significantly higher attitudes toward music than did lower or high social status students, and perhaps most significantly, (c) results indicated that self-esteem, as measured by Coopersmiths's Self-Esteem Inventory (1967), accounted for a significant amount of variance in predicting attitude toward classroom music experiences.

Hylton (1981) investigated the meaning of the high school choral singing experience. Although Hylton's research did not investigate self-concept specifically, his findings indicated that choral singing experiences might influence students' self-knowledge. Statements for a Likert-type assessment instrument were developed from responses to open- ended questions collected in a pilot study. The instrument was administered to 673 high school students in 14 different performing groups. This study, in combination with the pilot study which preceded it, generated six broad categories which described the meaning of the choral experience. Of these six categories, at least three had some relationship to self-concept (communicative, integrative, achievement). Additionally, the psychological dimension of this study directly related to self-concept because it dealt specifically with the development of the self. Hylton stated "...knowledge of self gained through musical experiences may lead to an enhanced self-concept and sense of worth" (p. 289). The following statements regarding the choral music experience were rated highly by participants: (1) to help me get to know myself better, (2) to feel more at ease, and (3) to help me be at peace with myself.

It is possible that social factors involved in the music experience are responsible for much of the perceived gains in self-concept. Music provides an opportunity for students to participate on a social level through ensemble activities. These increased social opportunities possibly affect students' social self-concepts. At this time, there has not been much effort made to isolate the social factor in self-concept research regarding music students. However, Murdock (1991) found that music students differed significantly from non-music students regarding social self- concept, although it was not possible to conclude this was the result of the choir experience alone. Hylton (1981) also found that social factors were a significant part of the choral experience.

Implications of the Existing Research

From the research reviewed, it is possible to draw several conclusions. There is evidence to suggest that self-concept is a multi-dimensional construct and that music self-concept can be measured separately from general self- concept. Music education may impact self-concept of music ability to a greater degree than it impacts general or global self-concept. Research regarding self-concept of ability is grounded more firmly than general self-concept research, perhaps because self-concept of ability is more specific and easily defined than is general self-concept. Intervention procedures designed to raise children's confidence of their abilities in specific subject areas by insuring the acquisition of prerequisite skills can lead to achievement gains. Therefore, one is more likely to find a relationship between self-concept of music ability and music achievement than one is to find a relationship between general self-concept and music achievement.

Literature regarding the relationship between general self- concept and music education is inconclusive. This may be the most important finding of this research. However, just as a not-guilty verdict in our judicial system does not reflect innocence, this lack of conclusive evidence does not guarantee that music education and development of self- concept are unrelated.

In roughly half of the music education and music therapy studies cited, there was no strong indication that music positively affected self-concept or that music students possessed better self-concepts than non-music students. These findings may have been the result of the small number of studies conducted in combination with the wide variety of self-concept definitions and measurement tools used in these studies. A greater number of similarly designed studies may yield more conclusive results.

In spite of the lack of empirical data to support such beliefs regarding music and self-concept, descriptive literature describing the positive relationship between the arts (including music) and general self-concept continue to proliferate (Kalliopuska, 1989; Sarokon, 1986; Sunyak & Kaufman, 1983). Such literature suggests that there is a discrepancy between common perception and conclusive evidence. It appears there are four major reasons for this discrepancy. These are: (a) the lack of a single, universally agreed upon operational definition of self- concept, (b) the selection of inappropriate measurement instruments which do not necessarily measure changes stemming from experimental treatments, (c) inconsistencies between observed behavior and self-reports, and (d) research designs which fail to recognize music's potential to affect not only self-concept of music ability, but also other facets of self-concept, including social and emotional components as well. Additionally, the lack of conclusive evidence regarding music education and self-concept may simply reflect the scarcity of research specifically related to this topic.

Although inconclusive research results make it challenging to propose recommendations for the music classroom, such results do not suggest abandoning all activities which are thought to improve self-concept. Elementary music education, particularly in the early grades, is critically important to the development of music self-concept. Pogonowski's (1985) research regarding a process-oriented music curriculum suggests that this type of curriculum potentially could influence positively students' self- concepts. Curricular approaches and activities should be selected with this in mind.

Although participation in group success can be a very positive experience for students, music classes which place tremendous emphasis on group achievement, rather than individual growth, do little to encourage individual effort or foster individual self-concept gains. Students in classes with a heavy emphasis on group achievement often are not evaluated on individual musical growth but rather on attendance and participation in group activities. Such evaluation may affect positively a student's social self- concept, but may have little effect on their self-concept of music ability (Hylton, 1981).

In order to impact individual students' self-concepts of music ability, music educators may wish to schedule opportunities for small group performance. Because small ensemble activities have been traditionally used for evaluative purposes only, and often have been reserved for students believed to be musically gifted, generally, they are perceived negatively and evoke high anxiety. Such small ensemble activities should be structured to minimize anxiety so that students perceive the task positively and feel empowered to meet appropriate music challenges.

Music classes should be structured to foster the belief that music ability is not a stable trait and can be developed through effort. At the secondary level, entry level non- auditioned classes should be provided in a variety of areas. Although general music classes are open to all students, in many secondary schools there are no general music classes offered. It is hard to imagine a high school where students would have severely limited access to English, math, science, or history classes. However, it is not difficult to find high schools where many students are unable to meet the requirements necessary to register for music performance classes. By being highly selective about the students they teach, music educators reinforce the idea that music ability is not subject to improvement through effort.

Recommendations for Future Research

The problems associated with self-concept research, including the definition and measurement of self-concept, initially might appear to be insurmountable. This is not to suggest that music educators abandon research in this area. Rather, in designing future research regarding student self- concept and music education, one must be aware of the difficulties inherent in the process.

It is important to integrate findings from the educational and psychological fields in the design of future research regarding music education and self-concept. For example, widely used self-concept measures such as the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (1967) or the Tennessee Self-Concept (1965) scale may be of questionable value in short term pre- posttest designs or inappropriate for a wide variety of cultural settings.

There are two recommended avenues for continued research regarding music education and student self-concept. The first is further investigation of self-concept of music ability. Suggested projects might include: (a) an investigation of the relationship between self-concept of music ability and specific curricular approaches, or (b) an investigation of the relationship between self-concept of music ability and participation in elective music activities at different developmental stages.

A second area of research pertains to the more challenging area regarding the establishment of a connection between music education and general self-concept. Future research might include: (a) a longitudinal study comparing the self-concepts of non-music students with the self-concepts of music students, (b) an investigation of the effect of music instruction on social facets of self-concept measurement instruments, (c) an investigation regarding the relationships between self-concept of music, music attitude, and general self-concept, and finally, (d) the development of qualitative research projects. A qualitative approach might circumvent difficulties associated with self-concept measurement. Furthermore, the holistic approach advocated by qualitative researchers indicates that self-concept might be studied more effectively by gathering a broad spectrum of data within the total context of a music classroom. Bresler and Stake (1992) stated that "Qualitative researchers can examine events that reflect latent as well as manifest learning" (p. 83). Neither self-concept nor the meaningfulness of music is translated easily into words. Some might argue that it is futile, perhaps even misguided, to attempt such a translation. As a result, the relationship between these two areas is interesting to discuss, yet frustrating to quantify. Cooperation between classroom teachers and researchers of differing fields may help in designing effective projects for future research. At this time, however, empirical evidence and anecdotal evidence continue to move in opposite directions. This is likely to continue until researchers can translate observations and perceptions regarding self-concept into quantitative measurements or until qualitative research is designed which breaks away from traditional conceptual frameworks.


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