Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 2-5-2019


Hoylman, E. (2019). The Influence of Selected Demographic Factors on the Retention of Middle School Instrumental Music Students. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Evan Hoylman 2019.


Music programs across the country, particularly at the secondary level, are much smaller than should be expected. Large numbers of students (and adults, for that matter) report that they enjoy music and listen to it often for pleasure. Yet, in many high schools, less than a quarter of the school population participates in school music. Why is this so? Students in elementary schools are typically engaged in music study, either through general music classes and/or band or orchestra participation, but retention of students in secondary school music study is a problem. The purpose of this study was to examine the demographic factors that influence participation in instrumental music at the middle school level, namely socioeconomic status [SES] and race. This research was done using demographic information on the students enrolled in middle school band and orchestra classes in Lincoln Public Schools, a medium-sized school district located in Lincoln, Nebraska. This study used Pearson’s chi square test to measure the relationship between student retention and the selected demographic factors, as well as overall student retention from the sixth to seventh grade independent of any demographic factors. The statistical analysis showed no difference beyond what can be attributed to chance in overall student retention from sixth to seventh grade. However, statistically significant results did indicate that students of color and those of low SES (in this case, receiving free or reduced-price school lunches) were more likely to drop out of school music than what can be attributed to chance.