Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Clovis White
Daphne John


Music education, Music accessibility, Cultural capital, Social mobility, Education inequality, Classical music, Non-profit music schools


The purpose of this investigation was to examine how classical music education is supported and made available to children in the United States, an underexplored area in the field of music and the arts. The paper examines the relationship between social class and the accessibility of classical music education to youth. The theoretical paradigms of Howard Becker, Annette Lareau, and Pierre Bourdieu argue that lower class families with reduced cultural capital have limited access to the arts and classical music in the U.S. The study incorporates a close examination of current literature, survey data collected from 50 parents who have children enrolled in private music lessons, four interviews of educators and music professionals, and draws on my own experiences teaching music in other parts of the world. The paper emphasizes potential barriers to receiving a music education, but also examines the merits of learning how to play an instrument and the kind of values music can teach. The research concludes that classical music is exclusive to children from lower social classes and that exposure to music can enrich the lives of youth in many meaningful ways.

Included in

Sociology Commons