Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Urbigkit, A. (2019). The Effects of Students’ Race on Listeners’ Perception of Classical Music Performance. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Autumn Urbigkit 2019.


This research study seeks to understand how listeners’ perceptions of race influence the ways in which they hear a classical music performance. Participants, all music pre-professionals from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, received information of a group of three young performers, accompanied by a short audio excerpt. Participants were split into two categories through random assignment, with one group being given a description where the performers were Black, and the other group and description where the performers were White. No other information about the performers were changed. Following the audio excerpt, participants answered a set of three surveys: the first focusing on their thoughts on the performance, the second on their views of music education and the third on their beliefs about the school and community that the students were said to have come from. Through these surveys, the researcher sought to see if audience members would rate the performance more harshly had it been given by a set of Black performers, as well as whether they were to assume that the Black musicians had come from a lesser quality school. Results indicated that there was slight bias towards White performers regarding the quality of performance. Results also pointed toward a higher likelihood that participants are more likely to believe that a student of color is more likely to belong to a school with higher poverty, more racial diversity and less academic success than White students. Discussion focusing on the implications of the current music education system within public schools concludes the document.