Evaluating the Effects of Music Education Programming in Low-Income Communities: A Randomized Control Study

9/1/2017 – 8/31/2021


This project aims to better understand the effects of orchestral training programming for low-income youth participants. The project is in partnership with Kidznotes, a North Carolina-based orchestral program that uses the Venezuelan El Sistema model to alter the life trajectory of historically underprivileged youth. The project involves additional collaboration from two school districts: Durham Public Schools (NC) and the Wake County Public School System (NC). Using a randomized control design, the study will evaluate the effects of Kidznotes programming on youth processes and outcomes in social emotional development and executive function, which are associated with longer-term academic success. To this end, the study will implement original data collection with Kidznotes’ youngest participants – kindergarteners and first graders – and their teachers. In addition, the investigative team will work with program leadership to integrate aspects of this evaluation into regular program processes, and it will aim to develop resources for other similar programs; this is meant to enhance evaluation capacity and sustainability. The Principal Investigator is Jessica Sperling, Ph.D., of Duke University’s Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) and Education and Human Development Incubator (EHDi).