"The Positive Effects Performing Arts Has On Participating Youth"


Ithaca City School District

  • According to a February 2005 report by the State Education Department, in the Ithaca City School District there was a significant difference in the test scores of white and non-white students, and also between economically disadvantaged and not disadvantaged students.  For example, “Level 4” is the highest a student can score on the state test.  In the area of Elementary Level English Language Arts, 33% of white students scored at Level 4, compared with 14% of black students.  On the same test, 38% of students whose families were not economically disadvantaged scored a Level 4, compared with only 10% of their economically disadvantaged counterparts.  Similar differences could be found in the mathematics and science test results, and these trends either continued or worsened in the higher grade levels. (Source: The State Education Department of the University of the State of New York.  “Overview of District Performance in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science and Analysis of Student Subgroup Performance for Ithaca City School District.” February 2005.)


Benefits of Music & Arts Education on Youth Development

  • According to a study published in the March 1999 issue of the scholarly journal Neurological Research, a group of 237 second-grade children who were given both piano keyboard training and newly designed math software scored 27% higher in the areas of proportional math and fractions than another group of children who used only the math software.  (Source: Graziano, Amy, Matthew Peterson, and Gordon Shaw.  “Enhanced Learning of Proportional Math through Music Training and Spatial-Temporal Training.”  Neurological Research 21.  March 1999.)


  • Research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 2003 Convention showed that music lessons offered children “intellectual benefits” and could even “fine-tune their sensitivity to emotion in speech.”  6-year-old children in the study who took music lessons (either keyboard or voice) showed an additional 2.5-point increase in their IQ levels compared with other 6-year old children who were not involved in music.  These children were also better able to identify a person’s emotion simply by tone of voice.  One of the researchers hypothesized that “perhaps the same area of the brain processes both speech prosody and music, and that ‘training in one domain would act to engage and refine those neural resources.’”  (Source: Chamberlin, J. “Are There Hidden Benefits to Music Lessons?”  Monitor on Psychology Vol. 34, No. 9.  American Psychological Association: October 2003.)


  • According to the American Music Conference, “In 1999, at PS96 in East Harlem, only 13% of the students performed at grade level in reading or math. Eighteen months after the music program was restored, 71% of the students were performing at grade level. The principal, Victor Lopez, attributes this astounding success to the restoration of the music program.(Source: American Music Conference informational website: musiceducation/social.htm)


  • A 2001 report by The College Entrance Examination Board showed that music involvement increased students’ SAT scores.  The report says that “students in music performance [courses] scored 57 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on the math, and students in music appreciation [courses] scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on the math, than students with no arts participation.”  (Source: “College-Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers.”  Princeton, NJ: The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001.)


  • According to Americans for the Arts, the country’s leading non-profit organization for the arts, “students with high levels of arts involvement are less likely to drop out of school by grade 10.” The organization also cites a Stanford University study conducted between 1987 and 1998, found that young people who participated in an arts program, at least three hours on three days of each week throughout at least a year, were 4 times as likely to be recognized for academic achievement, 3 times as likely to be elected to their class office, 4 times as likely to participate in a math and science fair, and 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance than their peers who did not participate in an arts program.  (Source: Americans for the Arts, 8/6/2004.


  • According to MuSICA Research Notes, “Martin Gardiner of Brown University tracked the criminal records of Rhode Island residents from birth through age 30, and he concluded the more a resident was involved in music, the lower a person’s arrest record.” (Source: MuSICA Research Notes, Winter 2000)


  • The Arts Education Partnership reported that according to a Columbia University study, “students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident and better able to express their ideas.” (Source: The Arts Education Partnership, 1999)






More About the Effects of Music and Arts Education on Children




“Students who participate in school band or orchestra have the lowest levels of current and lifelong use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs among any group in our society.” –H. Con. Res. 266, United States Senate, 6/13/2000




“Arts education increases interest in academic learning, cognitive and basic skills development and the development of academic achievement skills.” –R.R. Konrad, Empathy, Arts and Social Studies, 2000




“With music… students connect to each other better- greater camaraderie, fewer fights, less racism and reduced use of hurtful sarcasm.” -Eric Jensen, from Arts with the Brain in Mind, 2001




“During moments of musical euphoria, blood travels through the brain to areas where other stimuli can produce feelings of contentment and joy- and travels away from the brain cell areas associated with depression and fear.” –Dr. Frederick Tims, rept. in AMC Music News, 6/2/1999




“Students of lower socioeconomic status gain as much or more from arts instruction than those of higher socioeconomic status.” –James Catterall et al, 1999








Effects of After-school or Out-of-School Programs in General


According to a report by the American Youth Policy Forum, youth participation in programs outside of school hours, such as CUMEP, “has been linked to increased academic, developmental, and social outcomes for young people.”  The forum also reports that children and youth who participate in such programs “have shown positive outcomes in school attachment, academic achievement, supportive relationships with adults, and peer relationships.”  The forum also states:




Research has shown that participation in creative and recreational activities can be associated with higher self-concept, self-esteem, and resiliency in youth. Due to decreased funding in the arts, music, and recreation, schools may no longer provide these activities. However, OST [Out of School Time] programs offer opportunities to compensate for this loss.  Further, the changing demographics of society from majority two-parent families to the increasing number of single-parent families highlights the importance of OST programs for providing safe, structured, and engaging activities for youth in the hours after school. The critical hours from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, when most parents are working, are prime time for youth participation in criminal activity or as victims of violence. Therefore, participation in OST programs during this time may reduce the number of youth victims of crime and delinquency.




(Source: “Finding Fortune in Thirteen Out-of-School Time Programs: A Compendium of Education Programs and Practices.”  Washington, DC: American Youth Policy Forum, 2003)








Other Resources and Information




Research compiled by Shannon Houston