Dr Susan Hallam

Playing a musical instrument has a positive effect on attainment

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

The findings of a recent study by Dr Susan Hallam,  Professor of Education and Music Psychology at the Institute of Education and Kevin Rogers, of Hampshire Music Service, show that young people playing a musical instrument enjoy greater progress and better academic outcomes than those who do not, with the greatest impact for those playing the longest.

The study drew on existing data from three secondary schools in England and compared the attainment of 608 young people at the ages of 11 and 16.

Of these, 493 students (81%) did not learn to play an instrument or have voice tuition in school, while 115 students (19%) did. Of those who were learning to play an instrument, 55 had been learning for up to three years, and 60 had been learning for four or five years.

The researchers collected the student’s scores in mathematics and English tests taken at the age of 11 , as well as data on whether they played a musical instrument and if so, how long they had been playing for (see above). They then used GCSE results (the General Certificate of School Education, a national examination taken at age 16 in the UK), to assess each student’s attainment.

The study shows that playing a musical instrument enhances performance in national exams at KS4, shows progress between KS2 and KS4, and that the impact is greater the longer a young person has been playing an instrument. The instrumentalists across all three schools, on most measures, performed at nearly one standard deviation better than those not playing an instrument at KS4 despite there being negligible differences at KS2. Those who had been learning for four or five years had the best results.

SOURCES:
Cambridge University Press: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-music-education/article/div-classtitlethe-impact-of-instrumental-music-learning-on-attainment-at-age-16-a-pilot-studydiv/F439F0A77A79858988B66C172FF5CC72/core-reader

DETAILS:

BENEFIT: ACADEMIC ATTAINMENT
TARGET GROUP: YOUNG PEOPLE
AGE: 11-16 YEARS
MUSIC TYPE: GENERAL
TYPE OF STUDY: ACADEMIC RESEARCH
NOs INVOLVED: 608
PERIOD OF STUDY: UNKNOWN (DATA COVERS 5 YEARS)
DATE: 2016
PLACE: UK

The power of music: its impact on intellectual, social and personal development

SUMMARY:

In August 2010, Professor Susan Hallam of the Institute of Education at the University of London, published an overview paper on the impact of music on intellectual, personal and social development. Drawing on the results of numerous studies, she concludes that playing an instrument can lead to a sense of achievement; an increase in self-esteem; increased confidence; self-discipline; and provide a means of self-expression. While participating in musical groups promotes friendships; social skills; a sense of belonging; team-work; co-operation; commitment; mutual support; increased concentration and provides an outlet for relaxation.

She is about to (December 2014) publish an updated research paper.

SOURCES:

Richard Hallam: http://www.dickhallam.co.uk/research-reports.php International Journal of Music Education: http://ijm.sagepub.com/content/28/3/269.refs [SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED]