A study led by Canadian psychologist E. Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto-Mississauga confirmed that making music improves behavior in children. The study included 84 third and fourth graders from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds who were enrolled in public school. Half of the participants took a weekly 40-minute group ukulele class that included singing, playing, improvisation, ear training, and sight reading. During the class children were encouraged to interact.
At the beginning and end of the school year the students took a series of tests to measure vocabulary, pro-social skills, ability to read emotions, and sympathy with others. Students who initially scored low on sympathy and helpfulness developed those qualities at above-average rates after taking group music lessons for a full school year. The changes in the students who took a group ukulele class occurred whether or not they attended the class voluntarily. The researchers say that the results, which were reported in the online journal PLOS One, showed that music “fosters social cohesion, cooperation, and a pro-social orientation.”