Making music improves behaviour

A child's behaviour can improve as a result of them being encouraged to make music, research has suggested. Conducted by undergraduate student Rie Davies and academics Dr Maddie Ohl and Dr Anne Manyande from the School of Psychology at the University of West London, the study found this form of activity can have a positive impact regarding both pro-social behaviour and problem-solving skills.

The study presented last week at the BPS Joint Cognitive and Developmental Psychology Section annual conference in Reading built on existing research (Kirschner and Tomasello in 2012) that found making music significantly improves pro-social behaviour in young children.  

The investigation was comprised of 24 four-year-old girls and 24 boys of the same age and revealed helpfulness among both female and male participants who played music was improved by more than 30 times compared to those who did not do so.

It was demonstrated that taking part in these classes resulted in youngsters becoming more likely to cooperate and to solve problems successfully.

Ms Davies stated: "Music making in class, particularly singing, may encourage pupils with learning differences and emotional difficulties to feel less alienated in the school environment."

The study builds on previous research - Joint Music Making Promotes Prosocial Behaviour in Four-Year-Old Children by Kirschner and Tomasello - which found making music can improve pro-social behaviour. 

The 2013 Joint Annual Conference Cognitive and Developmental Sections conference is taking place at the Univesrity of Reading and will run from the 4 – 6 September. The full programme can be accessed here. You can also follow the conference on Twitter


I agree with the findings re the benefits of children experiencing music as early as as possible I'm a retired Primary School Principal who had the privilege of teaching in three different schools during my thirty-nine year career(1966 - 2005) in the profession. Music was given a prominent place in the curriculum provided by each of the schools and I can testify that I witnessed all children benefit in 'body, soul and mind in balance'(Atarrah Ben-Tovim, Children and Their Music, 1979). The location of the schools, with enrolments ranging from 600 to 900+, reflected the whole range of society....North Belfast and in Co Antrim - Newtownabbey and Ballyclare. A wide range of music filled the air in all these schools. Furthermore I could say the same for the positive input of sporting activities in childrens' education, be it impact on the social, physical, mental, spiritual or emotional development. Isn't it such a pity that the vast majority within successive goverments and so many from the hierarchy of those gurus responsible for the delivery of education, and the decisions re funding allocation in particular, seem to have missed out on the benefits of music and indeed sport in their own lives. Build the house with a good foundation! Music is an essential ingredient in the process! As the children learn and share music with others they develop their whole being - personally, socially, mentally, physically emotionally and spiritually. Ultimately a healthier, more cohesive and peaceful society can emerge. Yes it can!. As I was about to enter the noble profession a wise old lecturer imparted to me as a student teacher,"Its about people and people matter and CHILDREN are PEOPLE"