Exploring the academic and psychosocial impact of El Sistema-inspired music programs within two low socio-economic schools

Margaret S. Osborne, Gary E. McPherson, Robert Faulkner, Jane W. Davidson, Margaret S. Barrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


We sought to understand the potential for positive non-musical outcomes for economically and socially disadvantaged primary school students who are involved in instrumental music learning programs. Two schools with students experiencing generational poverty, current or first-generation immigrant or refugee status who were running El-Sistema inspired music programs participated in the study. Ninety-two students in Years 3–6 completed audio-visual assessments of non-verbal reasoning, verbal and mathematical ability, and psychosocial well-being. Comparisons by school and program participation over a period of 12 months, indicate improved non-verbal (visuo-spatial) reasoning, verbal and mathematical skills, and psychosocial well-being for students at School 1. Findings indicate some evidence of positive outcomes for low socio-economic status and socially disadvantaged children who participate in El Sistema-inspired extra-curricular music programs. Given the substantial number of students involved in such programs worldwide, these findings suggest outcomes for disadvantaged students may be improved through music learning opportunities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-175
Number of pages20
JournalMusic Education Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive ability
  • music education
  • non-musical outcomes
  • primary school students
  • psychosocial well-being
  • socio-economic status

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