The benefits of ukulele in the elementary classroom

(Sarah Han|Flickr Creative Commons)
(Sarah Han|Flickr Creative Commons)

According to recently published research from the University of Toronto-Mississauga, music lessons can lead to an increase of positive social behavior in children.

The lessons in this study featured group performances on one particular instrument, primarily due to its child-friendliness and affordability — the ukulele.

The study — led by psychologist E. Glenn Schellenberg — focused on 84 Canadian third- and fourth-graders. About half of the students took part in a 40-minute music class, meeting once a week for an entire school year. The other students attended schools without this music program.

The research team discovered that students who participated in the 10-month music class had “larger increases in sympathy and pro-social behavior” that those who did not.

“Such collaboration may improve children’s social bonds … raising their motivation to provide support for others, and their willingness to receive help from others,” the team noted.

Schellenberg and his colleagues pointed out two possible contributing factors to this outcome. One, the frequent interaction of the children in the music class created an environment in which helping each other was a very natural thing to do. And two, performing in unison has long been linked to an increase in bonding and that the team calls “other-oriented emotions.”

Read more about the study in the online journal, PLoS One.

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