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The Effect of Group Singing and Socioeconomic Status on Fifth-Grade Students’ Affective Well-Being

Mary Elizabeth Hilbers, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Students living in poverty are at greater risk for many deleterious issues commonly associated with it, including poor mental health. Studies have suggested that singing may provide many physiological, psychological, and social-emotional benefits, improving the well-being of participants. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of group singing and the impact of socioeconomic status (SES) on the affective well-being of fifth-grade students in the general music classroom during a 12-week unit at a midwestern elementary school. The SES of many of these students was assumed to be low based on their qualification for Free and Reduced-Price Lunch. Fifth-grade students were randomly assigned to one of twelve music classes that were designated as “school singing” or “school music making” based on the day of the week that they had music class. Students who engaged in “school music making” and did not sing for 12 weeks covered the same curriculum and had the same music teacher as the students who sang, but focused on the use of rhythmic speech, classroom instruments, and movement to achieve course objectives. Absence of depression indicating well-being was measured using the Birleson Depression Self-Rating Scale for Children (DSRS-C). Results were analyzed using a 2X2 between-subjects factorial ANOVA with “school singing”/“school music making” and FRPL status as independent variables and scores on the DSRS-C as the dependent measure, with no significance found. A between/within-subject analysis using a 2X3 split plot ANOVA comparing the means from three applications of the measure on the “school singing” group based on FRPL status was also conducted, showing statistical significance in singing over time (F1,57 = 8.036, p < 0.05), however, it was determined that SES was not a contributing factor. These findings do not support earlier studies that suggest that students of lower SES that sing may show more improvement in affective well-being than higher SES students that sing but do reinforce research that recommends longer treatment periods.

Subject Area

Music education|Music|Mental health

Recommended Citation

Hilbers, Mary Elizabeth, "The Effect of Group Singing and Socioeconomic Status on Fifth-Grade Students’ Affective Well-Being" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30423117.