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I Sing Because I'm Happy: The Perceived Impact of Participation in Choral Music on the Identity Development of Young Black Men


This study sought to understand how the choral music ensemble contributes to the success of Black men in schools and how it supports them in overcoming challenges in school. Utilizing qualitative interviews, 13 young Black men residing in Los Angeles County who were enrolled in a high school choral music ensemble for at least one (1) academic year were interviewed. Participants expressed that they perceived the community in the choral classroom to contribute to their success in school. Additionally, participants articulated that they perceived the choral music ensemble to contribute to the cultivation of future aspirations and the development of prosocial behaviors. While young Black men experienced challenges closely related to the intersection of their race and gender, they reported that the choral music ensemble supported them in overcoming those challenges, leading to success in school. Findings also show that some young Black men expressed they were unsure how to cope with challenges surrounding race in school and often struggled connecting their participation in choral music to their success. Results affirm the importance of the integration of arts in education. Further, seeing that participants report an overall positive impact of this particular environment on their schooling success, findings suggests that we must better understand how to: 1) recruit and retain young Black men in high school choral music; 2) prepare music educators to take a more active role in the cultivation of identity in young singers; and 3) create similar spaces in schools that support the success of young Black men in schools.

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