Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

Faculty Sponsor

Nancy Glen

Second Faculty Sponsor

Josh Packard


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 which are beneficial in differentiating music and speech from noise. However, these benefits are not accessible to all communities. Department of Education (2012) research reveals that elementary and secondary schools with a higher percentage of poverty have fewer music teachers, music courses, dedicated rooms for music, and proper music equipment. In this research I examine how social inequality in the US correlated with a lack of music instrument stores (MIS). These areas can be thought of as Music Deserts. To examine if social inequality affects access to MIS, I identified Music Deserts by counting 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 (e.g. 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. I also ran a linear regression that showed 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.

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