The sixth annual Ukulele Kids’ Jam in Dunedin, New Zealand

A new study from the University of Toronto-Mississauga reveals what uke players already know: the instrument inspires positive behavior.

Group Music Training and Children’s Prosocial Skills  focused on 84 Canadian public school third- and fourth-graders — enrolling half in a weekly, 40-minute group ukulele class for an entire school year (10 months). At the beginning and end of the year, the children took a series of tests designed to measure vocabulary, pro­social skills, ability to read emotions in a person’s face, and sympathy for others.

The students enrolled in the music class learned how to sing, play, and improvise together, plus ear training and sight reading. The research team — led by psychologist E. Glenn Schellenberg — discovered that kids who participated in ukulele lessons had “larger increases in sympathy and pro-social behavior” than those who did not. Schellenberg and his colleagues credit the ukulele classes with creating a collaborative environment and forming social bonds between children who sang and played together.

Read the entire study in the online journal, PLoS One.

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