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Kenneth Elpus
Psychology of Music, 46(2), 155-173
Publication year: 2017

The purpose of this study was to understand the effects of school-based music education on later adult engagement with the arts using nationally representative data from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. The probability of adult arts engagement as performer/creator and patron/consumer was estimated as functions of prior school-based music and arts education participation with statistical covariate control applied for demographic variables known to vary with music education status. Results suggest that both music performance and music appreciation courses are strongly associated with later arts participation as patron/consumer and performer/creator, even after controlling for socioeconomic status, sex, and race/ethnicity. Former music appreciation students were 93% more likely to attend classical music or opera performances as adults and 255% more likely to play a musical instrument as adults than were non-participants. Former music performance students were 342% more likely to play a musical instrument, 258% more likely to sing, and 186% more likely to take photographs as an artistic endeavor than were non-participants. Results of this study suggest that lifelong engagement with music and the arts is one measurable outcome of school-based music education in the United States.


This analysis was supported in part by an award from the Research Grants in the ArtsĀ program of the National Endowment for the Arts: Grant #14-3800-7020.