September 08, 2011 — Coral Gables, FL — University of Miami Frost School of Music professor Carlos R. Abril has recently published findings of a research study designed to construct a national demographic profile of high school band, choir, and orchestra students in the U.S. using evidence from the 2004 follow-up wave of the Education Longitudinal Study. The article, published with Kenneth Elpus (University of Maryland) in the Journal of Research in Music Education, is titled “High School Music Ensemble Students in the United States: A Demographic Profile.”
Research findings indicate that 21% of seniors in the United States’ class of 2004 participated in school music ensembles, which represents a decline of almost 10% from 1982. Authors suggest the decline can be explained by the increased focus on “tested” subjects and a reduction in the number of elective courses offered in high schools. Significant associations were found between music ensemble participation and variables including gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), native language, parents’ education, standardized test scores, and GPA. Certain groups of students, including those who are male, English language learners, Hispanic, children of parents holding a high school diploma or less, and in the lowest SES quartile, were significantly underrepresented in music programs across the United States.
At the other end of the spectrum, white students were significantly overrepresented among music students, as were students from higher SES backgrounds, native English speakers, students in the highest standardized test score quartiles, children of parents holding advanced postsecondary degrees, and students with GPAs ranging from 3.01 to 4.0. Students who participate in large ensembles in high school were found to be more socially and economically privileged than their peers, indicating music students are not a representative subset of the population of U.S. high school students. While these findings cannot establish that music improves academic achievement, it does suggest that academically superior students may be drawn, encouraged, and supported to study music in school.
Carlos Abril is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Music Education at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. Prior to this appointment he served as Associate Professor and Coordinator of Music Education at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music.
Abril’s research focuses on sociocultural issues in music education, arts education policy, and music perception. He has presented his work nationally and internationally, and published his research in the major journals in the field. He also author of many books chapters and co-editor of the book, Musical Experiences in Our Lives.
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The Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music, established in 1926 when the University of Miami was founded, is one of the largest and most relevant schools in the U.S., and is one of the most comprehensive in all of higher education. The naming gift from Dr. Phillip and Patricia Frost was one of the historic highlights in the life of the School. The Frost School has pioneered new curricula including the ground-breaking Frost Experiential Music Curriculum, and was the first in the nation to offer professionally accredited bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music Business and Entertainment Industries, Music Engineering Technology, and a master’s in Arts Presenting. Its premier ensembles include the Frost Symphony Orchestra, Frost Wind Ensemble, Frost Opera Theater, Frost Jazz Vocal Ensemble and Frost Concert Jazz Band. Now the home of the Henry Mancini Institute, the Frost School also offers a songwriting minor through the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music Program and was among the first to offer degrees in Music Therapy, and Studio Music and Jazz. Its graduate jazz program is ranked among the top three in the nation. The University of Miami School of Law and the Frost School now offer the first-ever joint degree program in law and music business (J.D./M.M.). The Frost School’s innovative programs, combined with its traditional areas of concentration, offer its students one of the widest choices of career programs of any music school in the nation. www.music.miami.edu
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