Music Deserts: How Social Inequality Affects Accessibility To Music Resources Important To Actively Participating In Music

Everardo Reyes


Recent findings in the cognitive neuroscience of music suggest that active participation in music has benefits such as increasing reading comprehension, soothing babies, and helping increase synapses beneficial in differentiating music and speech from noise. However, these benefits are not accessible to all communities. Research done by Basmat Parsad and Maura Spiegelman for the U.S. Department of Education (2012) revealed that elementary and secondary schools with a higher rate of poverty have fewer music teachers, music courses, dedicated rooms for music, and proper music equipment. The purpose of this research was to examine whether social inequality in U.S. correlated with a lack of music instrument stores (MIS) in certain geographical regions. These areas can be thought of as Music Deserts. To examine if social inequality correlated with access to MIS, I quantified the number of MIS registered with US Census data within zip codes of New York City and Chicago. I also utilized US Census data to identify characteristics of each zip code such as population size and median household income. After importing data into Statistic Package for Social Scientists (SPSS), I analyzed correlations between music stores per square mile and factors such as education, income, and race. Linear regression suggests that Music Deserts exist and can be associated with percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Music Deserts are important to recognize because they identify areas where a lack of resources deprive lower income communities from benefits associated with active music participation.


Music Education, Music Deserts, Social Stratification

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