Who Enrolls in High School Music? A National Profile of U.S. Students, 2009–2013

Kenneth Elpus, Carlos R. Abril

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to construct a complete demographic profile of high school music ensemble students using nationally representative data for the U.S. graduating high school class of 2013. We make use of restricted-use data from the National Center for Education Statistics High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS). Results showed that 24% of the class of 2013 enrolled in at least one year of a course in band, choir, or orchestra at some point during high school. Music students were 60% female and 40% male, and the racial/ethnic composition of music ensemble students was 58% White, 13% Black or African American, 17% Hispanic or Latino, 4% Asian or Pacific Islander, 8% two or more races, and under 1% American Indian or Alaska Native. Students from the highest socioeconomic status quintiles were overrepresented among music students. Fully 61% of music ensemble students participated in some form of arts activity outside of school, and 71% of music students attended a play, concert, or live show with their parents as ninth graders. Complete results presented in the article include disaggregated profiles by type of ensemble and a multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-338
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • demographics
  • music ensemble enrollment
  • music participation
  • race and ethnicity
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Music


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