http://www.harmony-project.org/ and read about it there. Below is some research that I have gotten off of that website. There are more stories and research about music programs helping children in many ways like the Harmony Project does, through out the rest of my blog. Also check out the video link in the left column of my blog "The Creativity Factor"
Harmony Project programs are research-based. I developed Harmony
1. A robust body of literature shows the following. Tiny kids
want to learn everything, and they want to learn it now!
academic motivation (natural curiosity) of 3rd graders tends to be stably
and predictably high. For every year a child remains in school, however,
intrinsic academic motivation plummets. Ie., kids show up interested and
seeking mastery experiences, and the things we do with kids in schools
tends to extinguish their curiosity and desire to learn. (See 2, below, for
Harter, S. (1981). A new self-report scale of instrinsic versus extrinsic
orientation in the classroom: motivational and informational components.
Developmental Psychology, Vol 17(3), 300-312.
Lepper, M.R., Corpus, J.H., Iyengar, S.S. (2005). Intrinsic and extrinsic
motivational orientations in the classroom: Age differences and academic
correlates. Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 97(2), 184-196.
Makri-Botsari, E. (1999). Academic instrinsic motivation: Developmental
differences and relations to perceived scholastic competence, locus of
control and achievement. Evaluation and Research in Education, Vol 13(3),
2. Shirley Brice Heath, a linguistic anthropologist at Stanford
(now at Brown), wanted to learn what kids, ages 8 - 18, do in
their discretionary non-school hours.
conducted a 10-year qualitative research study, embedding ethnographers
in 124 different after-school programs throughout the country. She
transcribed some two million words of recorded conversation. All the
students involved in after school programs had benefited relative to peers
who had not engaged in after school programs. But, relative to students
who had participated in sports programs or community service programs
(like scouting, religious clubs, 4H, etc.), arts-engaged kids sounded like
they came from a different universe. Heath determined that, hands down,
arts-based programs produced the most powerful and enduring pro-social
impact on young people. The effect was particularly striking for
disadvantaged students, who tended to self-select into arts-based programs
at greater rates than did their more advantaged peers.
Heath's study demonstrates that arts-engaged students tend to remain
curious, engaged, and interested in the process of their own learning and
development -- a striking "exception" to the downward motivation trend
described in #1, above.
Reference:To answer the question, shehttp://www.aep-arts.org/files/publications/ChampsReport.pdf
Imaginative Actuality: Learning in the Arts during the Nonschool
Hours Shirley Brice Heath with Adelma Roach, page 19 The article on page 1 of the compendium is also of note. It describes an analysis of data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey done by James Catterall and colleagues. Music-engaged high school students performed significantly better in math and language. Students with high levels of music engagement scored even higher. The effect persisted for disadvantaged students.
Involvement in the Arts and Human Development: General Involvement and Intensive Involvement in Music and Theater Arts James S. Catterall, Richard Chapleau and John Iwanaga, page 1
3. The RAND Corporation followed up on Heath's work to
essentially answer the following question. "Do all arts programs
produce powerful and enduring pro-social benefits, or are there
specific factors within high-performing arts programs that
account for the powerful pro-social benefit observed?"
RAND's landmark "Arts and Prosocial Impact" studies answered the
question. Quality instruction was necessary, but insufficient to produce the
prosocial benefits observed. There were, indeed, a handful of specific
factors besides quality instruction that were common to the highestperforming arts-based youth programs.
RAND, Arts & Prosocial Impact:
4. The question remains: How are quality arts programs
(containing the elements identified by the RAND study) able to
impact students' social and emotional well-being and improve
University of Rochester researchers Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci.
Their "Self Determination Theory" posits three essential psychological
needs: the need for autonomy, for competence, and for relatedness. Using
an experimental design, Ryan and Deci showed that boosting students’
autonomy, competence, and relatedness resulted in statistically significant
increases in students' intrinsic motivation.
Quality arts education programs (that include the elements identified in
the RAND study) improve students' competence, autonomy, and
relatedness with laser-like precision. A student learns to play an
instrument herself (autonomy). Over time she develops the ability to play
it better, and to play increasingly difficult pieces (competence). And she
performs these pieces before family and peers -- either on her own or as
part of an ensemble (relatedness).
Reference: Ryan, R.M., Deci, E.L. (2000). Self-determination theory and
the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being.
American Psychologist, Vol 55, 68-78.
Self Determination Theory:The answer can be found in the work ofhttp://www.psych.rochester.edu/SDT/;
5. How Music Learning Shapes Students’ Brains
Dr. Nina Kraus, Director of the Auditory Neuroscience Lab at
Northwestern University has studied how music learning shapes the brain and the abilities of music students for two decades. She has found that, over time, music learning shapes the development of the brain and nervous system in a way that improves students’ language learning and acquisition and also improves a student’s ability to listen in a noisy environment and hear the important messages, despite the accompanying noise. The following link contains short videos that provide the opportunity to listen to Dr. Kraus describe her research.
6. Grades, Behavior and Mood
In our most recent impact evaluation survey, a high proportion of students' parents indicated that - since joining the Harmony Project - their child has shown improvement in his/her Grades (82%), Behavior (82%), Mood (80%), and Health (70%). These responses were recently validated in a research study conducted by Michael Uy, a UC Berkeley graduate who was awarded the Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize to spend a year comparing The Harmony Project with Venezuela's world-renowned El Sistema youth orchestra program (i.e., the program that produced Gustavo Dudamel, incoming Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director). The study
– based on in-depth interviews with students and parents of both
programs – found that 90% of Harmony Project students showed
improved focus and discipline, 73% improved academic achievement, 71%
improved family communication, 44% improved self-esteem.
7. Preventing School Drop-Out; High School Graduation;
Below is a link to a recent study conducted by the University of California
Santa Barbara which reports drop-out rates for cities throughout
California. Drop-out rates for Los Angeles were reported to be 50% for the
entire city. Drop-out rates for low-income communities can be as high as
70%, or even higher. Harmony Project operates programs in four of LA’s
12 high crime “gang reduction zones”. Our students come from lowincome
homes (family income below 200% of the federal poverty level), yet
they all remain enrolled in school.
In 2010, 100% of Harmony Project’s high school graduates went on to
college. Each was the first in the family to attend college.
8. 21st Century Learning skills:
Harmony Project participation supports the following 21st Century
Core Subjects: English, Reading / Language Arts, Arts
21st Century Context: Global Awareness
Harmony Project students discover the world and other cultures through
the music they learn. They also participate in classes with students from
diverse cultures and backgrounds.
Learning & Thinking Skills Critical thinking & problem-solving
skills Communication skills Creativity & Innovation skills Collaboration
skills Contextual learning skills
The process of learning to play a musical instrument takes place over
multiple years, and develops student discipline, persistence, strategic
thinking, creativity and accountability. Ensemble participation develops
the ability to collaborate well with others.
Life Skills Leadership Ethics Accountability
Harmony Project students develop leadership skills as Teaching Assistants
and Peer Mentors within the program. They develop a personal ethical
framework and moral values through service-learning opportunities within
the program. And they learn accountability by participating in ensembles
and youth orchestras where the quality of the performance depends upon
each member learning and performing their part well.
21st Century Learning Skills (
40 developmental assets from Search Institute
Focus group interviews of Harmony Project students and parents show
that Harmony Project participation develops 30 or more of the 40
developmental assets identified by the Search Institute. This reflects a
level of social support associated with personal resilience and a significantreduction in students’ problem alcohol use, violence and school problems
There is this and more information at http://www.harmony-project.org/ Check it out!
Harmony Project – Research Basis Summary Prepared by
Margaret Martin, MPH, DrPH Harmony Project Founder
Project as a youth development and mentoring program targeting students with the greatest needs and the fewest resources. Utilizing a public health perspective, we focused on the after school environment, when children are at greatest risk of accident, injury, assault, abuse, criminal activity, and substance use. I didn't know about Dr. Abreu or El Sistema at the time I founded Harmony Project, but I began this work for essentially the same reasons, and we continue to learn as much as possible from the work being done in Venezuela and elsewhere. The following is a narrative describing
key pieces of research upon which Harmony Project programs are based.