School of Music


Doctor of Music Education (DME)


Monica Taylor


music education, at-risk students, music for everyone, benefits of music, adaptations for at-risk students, music lesson plans, alternative school, music educator strategies, college students response to music, inclusion, cognition, socialization, methodological strategies, special learners, diversity


Education | Music


Despite positive efforts toward inclusion, learners with special needs are progressively increasing in the United States today especially “at-risk” students; therefore, it is imperative music educators prepare to meet the needs of a diverse population. At-risk most commonly refers to students who struggle academically and have a higher probability of dropping out of school, ultimately, leading to an unstable life. Any student can be at-risk, regardless of background or ability level. Fortunately, music education plays an important role in reaching and retaining at-risk students, particularly, in high school. Music is a reinforcing, valuable tool that creatively encourages student achievement which extends into other curricular areas. Employed by a mixed methods research design, forty-four (N = 44) at risk students: eighteen (n = 18) high school, ten (n = 10) middle school, ten (n = 10) junior high school, and six (n = 6) elementary students participated in a six-week music program which aimed to improve academic achievement, behavior, socialization and overall confidence. Ten (N = 10) college and university students were interviewed to share how music influenced their life and aided their academic journey through the collegiate level. Additionally, thirty-two (N = 32) Missouri music educators completed questionnaires emphasizing important insights and methods regarding pedagogical strategies in diverse classrooms where best practices effectively accommodate student needs. This research investigation demonstrated how the music classroom can be a home for everyone, serving as a catalyst for learning and inclusion because the education of music creatively empowers students, especially those at-risk, to succeed in academics while improving cognition and socialization from the early elementary years through high school, college and life.