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Number of High School Students Enrolled in Music Programs

by Fitzalan Gorman

High school students have many extracurricular activities to choose from, such as sports, music, clubs and student council. Nearly 40 percent of high school students enroll in music programs, according to data compiled by the University of Michigan's "Monitoring the Future" study. Participation in music programs has a direct impact on test scores and language learning, according to the College Board, administrators of the SAT tests, and it also teaches students a variety of life skills.

Music Program Participation

The popularity of music programs increases the longer a student is in high school. Child Trends DataBank used over a decade's worth of research compiled by the University of Michigan to determine that 38 percent of tenth graders participate in music programs and that number grows to 41 percent for 12th graders. Females are more likely to enroll in music programs than males and the majority of students who drop out of music programs before the end of high school are males.

Demographics

According to a 2011 study by Kenneth Elpus and Carlos R. Abril of Northwestern University, there are significant associations between participation in high school music programs and race, socioeconomic status, native language and parents' education. The most commonly enrolled students in music programs are native English speakers, from a higher socioeconomic quartile, maintain a GPA of 3.01 or higher, or have parents who hold postsecondary degrees. The least likely student to participate in music programs is Hispanic or an English language learner, comes from the lowest socioeconomic quartile or has parents who hold a high school diploma or less.

Educational Benefits

Music programs provide greater benefits than just learning to play an instrument. Studying and practicing music enhances students' ability to learn. Music programs have direct impacts on standardized test scores and language skills. High school students who enroll in four years of music class average nearly 150 points higher on SAT tests than students who enroll for half a year or less, according to College Board records. Learning how to discern pitch and timing also helps musicians pick up languages faster, according to the editors of “Scientific American."

Life Skills

The benefits for participating in a music program are greater than just test scores and grades. Lisa Phillips, author of "The Artistic Edge," wrote in an article for ARTSblog that students who enroll in music programs develop more confidence, focus and perseverance. Additional real world benefits gained from music programs include enhanced problem solving, dedication, accountability, collaboration and non-verbal skills.

About the Author

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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