Ward, S., et al. “The Benefits of Music Workshop Participation for Pupils’ Wellbeing and Social Capital: The In2 Music Project Evaluation.” Arts Education Policy Review, (2021): 1-11.
The abstract for this article is available on the Taylor & Francis Online website.
Supports for the Findings:
The In2 music project involved students in year 6 (10–11 years old) from four primary schools and students in year 7 (11–12 years old) from one secondary school in Darlington, England and Back Chat Brass, a professional brass ensemble. The project ran for seven weeks from January – March 2020. It was a part of a larger three-year study seeking to uncover how the arts and sport help school transition for students from households with low socio-economic status. The study took place amid budget cuts for arts programs in UK schools. There was a significant loss of music programs in the schools, prompting the need for investigation and creativity to revise music curriculum in an environment of uncertainty for the survival of these programs; most specifically in Darlington, whose students experienced the highest levels of severe and multiple disadvantages. Using a qualitative constructivist approach, the authors acknowledge the impact of students’ cultural and dialogic interactions in their environment and how this informs their understanding of the world and impacts their sense of personal wellbeing and social capital. Researchers concluded that students who participated in this program experienced cognitive and social benefits including higher levels of social capital, self-efficacy, and a sense of connection to school and community.
Implications of the Findings:
This study addressed the need for music education in the general curriculum. Reducing access to music education in the general education curriculum in schools with higher rates of severe and multiple disadvantages created an issue of equity for students, as playing an instrument could be one indication of social capital and increased sense of wellbeing. As students from communities that are historically underserved often do not have the ease of access to out-of-school arts experiences, access to music education can divide student populations and perpetuate cyclical inequities.
Limitations of the Findings:
This study focused on a limited seven-week paid intervention of external musicians rather than the influence of certified arts educators. This may suggest a reliance on outside sources rather than the inclusion of arts educators who are integral to the school curriculum. The feedback indicating the study results came from the point of view of teachers and parents as to what the student outcomes were. In future studies, it could be beneficial to speak with students to triangulate their concerns directly with the impressions of the adults around them.
Since access to professionals in high-quality arts learning can be a challenge in communities with low-socioeconomic status and considering access to technology as another potential marginalizing factor, future studies may explore the impact of virtual instruction on the same population or different populations.
*This article is part of an expedited review cycle that AEP conducted in the spring of 2021. Members of the ArtsEdSearch Review Panel provided the content (edited by AEP staff) in this summary.