Policy Factsheet

School Music Programs

Reasons for Policy

  • Music is an important dimension of academic development.1
  • Youth music participation is associated with higher matriculation rates.2
  • Ninety-five percent of Americans believe that music is a key component in children’s education.³
  • Over seventy-five percent of Americans feel schools should mandate music education.³

Community Groups

  • Local Government
  • Local School District
  • Parent Teacher's Association
  • State Government

Policy Components

  • Weekly, in-school music class participation
  • Elementary school music program
  • High school music program

Desired Outcomes

  • Improved school attendance
  • Increased achievement scores
  • Positive classroom behavior
  • Decreased rates of current and lifetime alcohol, tobacco or drug abuse

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 3: Insufficient Evidence Available.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

  • There is insufficient evidence to support conclusions related to the nonmusical outcomes (academic achievement, social and emotional growth) of music education.5
  • Although research has produced positive results, the conclusions are generally unconvincing due to inadequacies in experimental designs.5
  • Further research and better designed studies are needed to assess the effects of school based music education on nonmusical outcomes.5


1 Southgate DE, Roscigno VJ (2009). The impact of music on childhood and adolescent achievement. Social Science Quarterly, 90(1), 4-21.

2 Aschaffenburg K, Maas I (1997). Cultural and Educational Careers: The Dynamics of Social Reproduction. American Sociological Review, 62, 573-87.

3 American Music Conference. (2003). Press Releases. Carlsbad, CA: American Music Conference.

4 Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.

5 Wolff KL, (2004). The Nonmusical Outcomes of Music Education: A Review of the Literature. Bulletin of the Council for the Research in Music Education. 159, 74-91.