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To examine if engaging in musical activities is associated with self-esteem or, secondarily, with higher academic achievement.
Survey, logistic regression.
United States, educational settings.
3,675 7th graders surveyed from the Longitudinal Study of American Youth's 2015 cohort.
Main Outcome Measures
The primary independent variable was music engagement, which included all of the following: going to the symphony, playing a musical instrument over the summer, and participating in a music group in school. Self-esteem was measured using a sum score of six Likert-scale items, including prompts such as “I have a positive attitude toward myself.” Academic performance was a self-reported measure of grades.
Music engagement was a significant predictor of academic performance (p <.001, OR=1.97, 95%CI =1.35, 2.86). Students who engaged in music had 1.97 times larger odds of having better academic performance, which represented a small to moderate magnitude of association. The magnitude of the association between music and self-esteem was positive (OR=1.18, 95%CI=0.99, 1.42) but not statistically significant (p=.072). An examination of the demographic variables indicated that academic performance was the strongest predictor of self-esteem (OR=2.76, 95% CI=2.18, 3.49). Additionally, males had larger odds of having higher self-esteem than females, students from rural communities had lower odds of having higher self-esteem than students from suburban communities, and students in the West had lower odds of having self-esteem than students in the Midwest.
These positive associations are crucial to understand, as music is a modifiable factor (unlike other demographic variables) that may support self-esteem and academic performance and impact adolescents’ lives into adulthood. Expanding music resources to subgroups at risk for lower self-esteem, such as rural areas and in the West, may provide more opportunities for students’ participation which in turn may positively influence academic performance and self-esteem.
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