An Investigation and Comparison of the Racial Demographics in Minnesota High School Music Courses

June 24, 2010 / By: Brian D. Lukkasson

The intent of this thesis is to examine high school and music demographic populations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area to determine if the demographics in high school music courses reflect the same demographic distribution in the total school population.  Data were compared on these student populations using the federal No Child Left Behind racial indicators which allowed for the data to separate into five demographic groups: (1) American Indian, (2) Asian, (3) Hispanic, (4) black, and (5) white.  Demographic data were examined based on a school’s region designation, an aggregate minority population percentage, and individual music course offerings at a school, if reported.

Data from thirty-one districts representing forty-seven high schools were collected representing three regions of Minnesota: urban, suburban, and out-state.  Data on music enrollment numbers and demographic percentages were collected from the individual districts and schools, while total school enrollment numbers and demographics were collected from the Minnesota Department of Education for the year 2009.

Results of this study mirrored what researchers had found in other states: Minority students, especially black and Hispanic, are not enrolled in elective music courses in representative percentages based on the school population.  Furthermore, this demographic study ascertained that representative minority populations are not electing to participate in high school music based on many schools’ antiquated model of music education that looks strikingly similar to the high school music programs of the mid-twentieth century.

The purpose of this research is to aid high school music educators and school administrators gain a clearer understanding of the population trends in music courses both in their own school or communities and in the state of Minnesota. This study should also serve as a spring board for further research into how certain demographic groups can be reached through specific course offerings or musical opportunities and teaching methods.