The Impact of Music Education on Select Students' Self-Efficacy

Music education may hold the key to improving the self-efficacy of students classified as socioeconomically disadvantaged. Increasing self-efficacy for these students also potentially improves their chances of academic success. This study investigated the ways in which an El Sistema-inspired after-school orchestra program impacts socioeconomically disadvantaged students’ self-efficacy as well as the correlations that exist between students’ participation in the music program and their self-esteem, perseverance, motivation, and outlook on their personal future. Participants included fourth and fifth grade students enrolled in an orchestra program at a public elementary school in Southern California as well as their parents, teachers, and the school administration. The study was carried out through a mixed-methods approach, which consisted of student surveys, observations, and interviews with parents and school staff. Results revealed participation in the music program provided students with access to several sources of self-efficacy and produced strong correlations to measures of self-esteem and perseverance. Relationships between participation in the after-school orchestra and levels of motivation and outlook on personal future were also indicated but to a lesser degree. This study provides evidence music programs are valuable and can provide the right type of environment to reach children who are at-risk and give them the opportunities they need to succeed.