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Music Makes a Brighter Future

Learning to play an instrument might lead us to feel more optimistic and motivated to seek opportunities, Michael M. Roy, Elizabethtown College, reported at the 24th APS Annual Convention in Chicago.

In the spring of 2009, Roy and his colleagues established a fully functional concert band program in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. They returned in the fall of 2011 to assess the music program’s impact. During their initial and return visits, they measured feelings of self-esteem, optimism, positive affect, negative affect, motivation to avoid losses, and motivation to seek gains. Band members, but not members of the control group, showed increased optimism and motivation to seek gains as a result of the program.

“What it seems is that being in this band program helped our students envision a brighter future for themselves and possibly also gave them the motivation to seek out that future,” Roy says. He hopes that his team’s research will encourage others to develop similar programs that reach more students.

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