Da capo al fine – retaining high school students in guitar programs

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Lemoine, Patrick
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Participating in quality school music programs is beneficial to many students (Elliott & Silverman, 2015; Hallam, 2010). In addition to being a rewarding endeavor in itself, engaging in music making brings forth educational benefits (Helmrich, 2010; Southgate & Roscigno, 2009), socio-emotional benefits (Frankenberg et al., 2016; Rabinowitch, Cross, & Burnard, 2012), and health benefits (Bell & Akombo, 2017; Brooke & Meyers, 2015), which are advantageous to the 21st century learner. Despite these benefits, many high school students choose to leave their music programs prior to graduating. The focus of this action research study was to increase my understanding of retention of students in high school guitar programs. Through an online survey and student interview, I aimed to uncover the reasons why Grade 12 students from one urban school division chose to remain in guitar programs, while others chose to leave. The analyses of student responses revealed that multipotentiality, scheduling/timetabling, and competence beliefs were important factors to consider, while attitudes/beliefs, socioeconomic status, student repertoire, success/failure, parental influence, and teacher/student relationship were less so. It was also determined that several factors such as motivation, interest/passion/flow, competition, level of difficulty, and peer influence were inconclusive and required further study. Action strategies for guitar teachers were offered to retain students through to Grade 12.
Retention, Attrition, High school guitar programs