Using Music Education to Integrate New Arrivals

Music activities aimed at children’s social inclusion, such as group singing/performance, are useful because music can be a non-confrontational, non-discriminatory way of engaging diverse children (Odena, 2010, 2014a, 2014b). While we know about social music programmes for empowering children from disadvantaged backgrounds, little is known about how and to what extent these activities work with newly arrived children using English as Additional Language (EAL). This project investigated data across ten state-funded schools with high intakes of EAL children, focusing on how they might be included in and by music activities.

The project implemented an innovative design to explore inclusive practices: 29 BEd (Music) student teachers acted as ‘co-researchers’ (Pine, 2009) across 10 schools in Glasgow in 2015-16. Schools had up to 30% of newly arrived pupils using EAL. Co-researchers gathered data on school environment and inclusive strategies in music classrooms, e.g. singing, group composition activities, pairing children with buddies. Non-music classrooms were observed for comparative analysis. One of the original findings was that while strategies such as pairing buddies with newly arrived children and drawing on their musical cultures (intercultural education) seemed effective in some schools, these strategies were not being used in other schools. Co-researchers and teachers were interviewed, producing over 400 pages of data. This dataset and its niche topic are the focus of a successful ESRC IAA project (‘Music Education for Integration’, 2016-2018, Odena PI).

PI and Co-Is - International Collaborators

PI - Dr Oscar Odena, University of Glasgow, School of Education


With Moira Summers, Angela Jaap and Andrea Rodriguez (Visiting Scholar, National University of Colombia)

Start and End Date

1/5/2014-31/12/2016 (End Date was postponed due to unforeseen personal circumstances by PDRA and PI in 2014 and 2015, followed by PDRA taking up a full-time job elsewhere)

Funder and Funding Amount

Chancellor’s Fund £10,000

Related Publications

Odena (2014) Overcoming Barriers with Music [Interim Project Report]. Other. University of Glasgow, Glasgow. Available at   

Publications related to the follow-up ESRC IAA project ‘Music Education for Integration’:

Odena, O., Summers, M., Jaap, A., & Rodríguez, A. (2016). Music for Integration Research Briefing: Exploring the Potential of Music Education for Integrating Newly Arrived Children in Schools. Glasgow: University of Glasgow Press. ISBN 978-0-8526-1948-3. Available at

Odena, O., Summers, M., Jaap, A., & Rodríguez, A. (2016). Music for Integration Research Briefing (Poster). Glasgow: University of Glasgow Press. Available at