Good music teaching can support children’s literacy

Empowering teachers with the skills to use music in the classroom can boost not only music skills in children, but also helps to improve aspects of literacy, particularly reading.

Children taking part in the New London Orchestra’s (NLO) Literacy through Music project significantly improved their reading abilities compared to those in control groups.

There was an average reading age improvement across the seven NLO programme classes of 8.4 months (from a minimum 4.8 months to a maximum of 13.2 months). This compares with an average reading age improvement in the two control classes of 1.8 months. The NLO programme children also made a significant improvement in their singing ability and sustained their perceived sense of being socially included. The NLO impacts were equally beneficial for children of both sexes.

Sessions involved the teaching of music and literacy activities and took place in 30 primary schools in the London Borough of Newham, involving around 650 teachers, during 2011.

A central part of the scheme was focused on improving primary school teachers’ confidence and skills in using music in the classroom, and providing them with methods and activities that they could use to support literacy development. By the end of the programme, two-thirds of teachers had used music-based activities to support other aspects of learning, including literacy, and said they would now them use them on a daily basis.


A Research Evaluation of the New London Orchestra “Literacy through Music” Programme, Teacher Inset provision by Jo Saunders, Graham Welch and Evangelos Himonides

Download the report from iMerc, the International Music Education Research Centre:


BENEFIT: Language development
TARGET GROUP: Young people
AGE: 6-7 years
TYPE OF STUDY: Academic research
NOs INVOLVED: 268 (207 participants, 61 in control groups)
DATE: 2011
PLACE: United Kingdom


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