Why Music? – The Students’ Perspectives

The relationship between instrumental music and student achievement has been debated for decades. Many studies (mostly correlational research) suggest that music performance can impact student achievement and social environment. Much of the research has evaluated instrumental music performance and student achievement from a quantitative/statistical standpoint using student test scores and college admission records. This study investigated the underrepresented perspective of students in regards to the impact of instrumental performance on student achievement and social environment. The aim was to find out why students continue to enroll in instrumental performance classes. A survey was conducted with participants from four high school advanced music classes (156 students). From two of the surveyed classes, two small student groups were selected for interviews. The small groups were randomly selected from a group of students who had a minimum of five years of instrumental performance experience. The initial findings of the survey and interviews revealed that instrumental music performance is positively correlated with student achievement and social environment. More research is needed to explore student perspectives to account for student instrumental experience and/or gender. Public and private schools are recommended to invest heavily in their music programs, as music performance is a conduit for student achievement. Moreover, with the advances in technology and recent findings from studies in neuroscience, instrumental performance has been shown to have beneficial effects on the brain and neuro-functioning.