Student and Parent Attitudes Regarding Enrollment in Middle School Band

April 7, 2009 / By: Brian M. Melody

The intent of this thesis was to identify the attitudes and factors considered by students and their parents when deciding to continue enrollment in middle school band.  To what degree were the following factors considered by students and parents before deciding to continue with middle school band?:  (1) Support of the subject matter; (2) Registration of peers; (3) Scheduling conflicts with elective options and activities; (4) Practice time requirements, attribution of achievements, and self-concept; (5) Satisfaction of instrument choice & opinions regarding band director/teacher; and (6) Affording the financial costs associated with band enrollment. 

Subjects of this investigation included seventh and eighth grade band students and their parents from Hidden Oaks Middle School in Prior Lake, Minnesota.  Student subjects were asked to complete a Student Survey, and parent subjects were asked to complete a Parent Survey with each using the Likert scale.  Each survey was self-administered, and subjects anonymously submitted it online.  Student subjects completed the survey in the computer lab during school hours and parent respondents submitted anonymously off of the school grounds.  The survey consisted of six main sections, each pertaining to one of the six major factors considered by students and their parents when deciding to continue enrollment in middle school band.  Each section contained 2-12 questions, and assessed the degree to which the factors in each of the above-mentioned sub-problems were considered by students and their parents. 

One-hundred twelve of the student surveys and sixty-two of the parent surveys were completed, were considered usable instruments, and were returned online for the study.  Survey results are displayed on a series of bar graphs in chapter four, with each bar graph representing the results of an individual survey question. 

Survey results indicated that parental support for the subject matter, attributions of success, and self-efficacy were the most influential factors considered by students and their parents regarding band enrollment, but that all the sub-problem categories affected at least a minority of respondents’ decision to remain in band.  As with previous research, parental support for band was shown to be very important.  Students and parents were motivated by the intrinsic value of learning music, but also found value in the knowledge gained from band that was cross-beneficial to other subject areas.  Peer influence in the decision to remain in band was shown to be minimal, but some students reported scheduling conflicts with sports and other elective choices as a reason to drop-out of band.  The data suggested that a triangular relationship exists between practice time, self-efficacy, and students’ attributions of success, in that all three affect the other two, and when they increased, the likelihood of student enrollment in band increased.  Parental support for band at home was shown to be very important in boosting student support for band, but a parent specifically answering a student’s musical questions was not shown to be an essential component of parental support needed to retain students in band.  The source of musical knowledge and advice was not important as long as students felt confident in their playing (musical) abilities.  A positive relationship with the band teacher was important to students and parents, but was not the largest factor considered by students before they decided to continue their enrollment in band.  Dissatisfaction of the instrument choice may have been a factor considered during the band registration process, but did not necessarily deter a student from remaining enrolled.  At the time and location of this survey, results did not indicate that financial concerns prevented students from remaining enrolled in the course. In many cases, previous research was in agreement with the findings in this study, but discrepancies were found between some of the research regarding attribution/self-efficacy, and opinions regarding the band director/teacher.