Scientific Study Shows Playing Ukulele Benefits Kids’ Attitudes

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

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


Group Music Training and Children’s Prosocial Skills, published in the journal PLoS One, 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.