The effect of participation in a music mentorship program on the self esteem and attitudes of at-risk students

Alice Ann Darrow, Julie Novak, Olivia Swedberg, Monica Horton, Brenda Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the paper was to examine the effect of participation in a music mentorship program on the self-esteem and attitudes of at-risk students. Participants (N = 24) were adolescent girls enrolled in a special program for secondary students who are at risk for academic failure and who are experiencing conflict in school and at home. Participants were assigned to a music mentorship group, music participation only group (no mentorship component), or control group (no participation in music). Interventions were at-risk students' participation in either a 16-week music mentorship program, or a 16-week music only program. Mentees for the mentorship program were secondary students enrolled a self-contained public school for students with developmental disabilities. Experimental group participants were involved in a special chorus, step and movement group, and instrumental ensemble. Results from dependent measures indicated that participants' self-esteem scores in the music and music mentorship groups improved similarly from pre- to posttest, and improved more so than the control group, though not significantly. Participants' journals revealed positive and affirming statements about what the mentors had learned about people with disabilities, helping others, and teaching music. These data indicate that music participation in any form may assist in improving students' self-esteem, although specific interventions may need to be longer in duration, targeted toward a specific self-esteem domain, and/or more intense in order to show significant improvement in standardized measures of self-esteem. Additional pre-post data revealed that at the conclusion of the music mentorship intervention, at-risk students were more interested in teaching as a possible career, and were more comfortable with persons who have disabilities than they were before the intervention.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5-16
JournalAustralian Journal of Music Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • disability
  • school retention
  • peer mentor program
  • music education


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