The relationship between english language learner status and music ensemble participation

Julie A. Lorah*, Elizabeth A. Sanders, Steven Morrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Authors of previous research have reported that U.S. English language learner (ELL) students participate in school-sponsored music ensembles (band, orchestra, and choir) at a lower rate than their native-English-speaking peers (non-ELLs). The current study examined this phenomenon using a nationally representative sample of U.S. 10th graders (14- to 16-year-olds across 751 high schools, N = 15,011) to estimate school music ensemble participation rates for ELL and non-ELL students. Consistent with prior research, initial results indicated that individual ELL status was a significant, negative predictor of participation. However, when our analyses took into account student socioeconomic status and academic achievement, results provided no evidence that ELL students participate in ensembles at different rates than non-ELL students. Results also indicate that school membership accounted for different ensemble participation rates. It may be that lack of opportunity - not lack of interest - explains the gap between ELL and non-ELL music participation that has been observed in prior research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-244
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • English language learners
  • ensemble participation
  • multilevel modeling
  • music education
  • school effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Music

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