High school music ensemble students in the United States: A demographic profile

Kenneth Elpus, Carlos R. Abril

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to construct a national demographic profile of high school band, choir, and orchestra students in the United States using evidence from the 2004 follow-up wave of the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. Results indicate that 21% of seniors in the United States' class of 2004 participated in school music ensembles. 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. In contrast, 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. Findings indicate that music students are not a representative subset of the population of U.S. high school students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-145
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • demographics
  • large ensembles
  • music participation
  • race and ethnicity
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Education


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