|Socioeconomic status (SES) is linked to multiple interacting systems, including students’ racial and ethnic background, grade level, and school/neighborhood location (Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997). In music education research literature, SES has often been used as a non-music variable to determine its effect on recruitment and retention in instrumental music programs (Albert, 2006; Corenblum & Marshall, 1988), musical achievement and outcomes (Bailey, 2018; Dame, 2010), and participation in music (Chappell, 2013; Elpus & Abril, 2011).
The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the relationships between school demographics and participation and competitive rankings at Bands of America (BOA) marching competitions. Specific research questions were:
1) What are the ethnicity demographics, free-reduced lunch percentages, and income-to-poverty ratio of schools participating in BOA competitions across the United States of America?
a. What are the differences between ethnicity demographics, free-reduced lunch percentages, and income-to-poverty ratio of schools participating at BOA competitions and all public schools in the United States of America?
b. What are the differences between ethnicity demographics and free-reduced lunch percentages of Texas schools participating at BOA competitions and all public schools in the State of Texas?
2) Is there a difference between finalist and non-finalist schools’ free-reduced lunch percentage and income-to-poverty ratio at BOA competitions?
3) What is the relationship between free-reduced lunch percentage and income-to-poverty ratio and the scores at BOA Regional Championship competitions?
Data were collected from 558 high schools throughout the United States of America that competed at one of the 22 BOA events in 2018. The dependent variables were contest results and scores collected from the Bands of America website. The independent variables were ethnicity demographics, the number of students who were eligible for free and reduced lunch, and income-to-poverty ratio information collected from the National Center for Education Statistics for each of the participating high schools. Simple linear regression, one-sample t-test, independent sample t-test, and factorial AVOVA were completed to analyze the data, using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 26.0 statistics software.
Results revealed a significant difference between the demographics of schools that participate at 2018 BOA competitions and the public schools in the USA. A school that participated in a BOA competition was more likely to have fewer students on free-reduced lunch and have higher income-to-poverty ratio scores compared to the national average. Based on the Factorial ANOVA analysis, IPR does not appear to have the same relationship as the variable FRL. However, bot variables had comparable results with the regression model and a similar R2 variance.
Recommendations for future research include examining public records of school budgets to determine the actual expenditures marching bands accrue each competitive season. Another recommendation is examining the impact of COVID-19 on music competitions and how the pandemic impacted participation in marching band competitions. The last recommendation is replicating this current study with other national marching band circuits, such as US Bands.