Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Joan Birringer-Haig

Second Advisor

Richard Bernato

Third Advisor

Stephen Kotok


The purpose of the study was to determine if there is a significant difference in student participation in the music courses of band, chorus, orchestra, and general music as related to race/ethnicity, ELL status, and free and reduced lunch status. The participants in the study included 389 eighth-grade students from a suburban middle school in the northeastern United States, located near a major metropolitan city. The school district maintains a nationally recognized music program. The quantitative study used archival data including student music course selection, GPA at the end of 8th grade, and 9th grade music course selection, race/ethnicity of the student, student free and reduced lunch status, and student ELL status. Redistribution, recognition, and representation of Nancy Fraser’s social justice theory, along with the essential elements of the Cultural Proficiency Framework, were the lenses which guided the study. Findings indicated that White students are overrepresented in the performing music ensembles, while Black, Asian, and Hispanic students, along with ELL students and those classified as lower income, are much less likely to choose to participate in band, chorus, and orchestra. However, when they do enroll, they are more likely to continue in the program through high school and their academic average increases. The study is timely in its attempt to examine recruitment and retention methods to identify potential economic or social barriers that limit full student body participation in beneficial performing music programs. Improved access to music opportunities for all students increases equity in performing music ensembles and supports student choice.