Can Music Help Shape Who We Are?

My answer is “Absolutely!”

Martin Gardiner of Brown University tracked the criminal records of Rhode Island residents from birth through age 30, and he concluded the more a resident was involved in music, the lower the person’s arrest record. (“Music Linked to Reduced Criminality,” MuSICA Research Notes, Winter 2000.) Music has been shown to help self-regulation, body control and ability to work with others as well as independently.  All these skills contribute to one’s feeling confident and capable, thus less likely to participate in criminal activity.

A study at the University of South Florida concluded that the highest common denominator among repeat violent offenders was a lack of language skills.  When do you feel the most frustration?  When you aren’t understood.  The ability to be able to express yourself effectively leads to better feelings about yourself and better relationships.  Music is a wonderful vehicle to learn language, how to express oneself and how to consider someone else’s emotion.  When we sing songs – for example “If You’re Happy and You Know It” – we are teaching the exploration of feelings.

Students who participate in school music ensembles have the lowest levels of current and lifelong use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs among any group in our society (H. Con. Res 266, US Senate, June 13, 2000). This is another interesting study relevant to the question in the title of this blog.  When children feel a part of something positive, they are less likely to be influenced by peers to be a part of something negative. Providing opportunities for children to fill their time with pleasant activities and with people they enjoy, teaches them to surround themselves with positive people and stay involved with these activities.

In a 1999 Columbia University study, students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident, and better able to express their ideas. These benefits exist across socioeconomic levels. – The Arts Education Partnership, 1999.  Isn’t that wonderful to know?  That it crosses socioeconomic levels?  It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, how much money your parents earn or what clothes you wear, music does not recognize any of that.  Music just reaches inside you and helps to shape you into the best you that you can be!

Keep in mind that just participating in music benefits you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a song that says “I Believe in Me.”   (Ooh. Good idea for next CD.) Any song that makes you love music and want it to be a part of your life benefits you.

– Maryann “Mar.” Harman BA Music Ed/MA Ed


Music with Mar - Maryann HartmanMaryann “Mar.” Harman is a music educator with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and a Master’s in Education, with an emphasis in Early Childhood and is certified in Level I Orff.  These degrees contribute to her ability to write songs that are musically and educationally sound for children as well as fun and easy to use for teachers and parents.  She is the founder of the internationally-enjoyed Music with Mar. Brain Research Based program, Music with Mar. International (Beijing, China) and hosted BAM! Radio Music and Learning Channel.


Currently, she actively teaches and travels around the world performing in concerts with Mr. Froggy or lecturing at conferences. For more information about Music with Mar and to enjoy her weekly blog posts, visit her website at:

Posted in Health, Infants and Toddlers, Music & Movement, News, Social & Emotional Behavior, What's New Tagged with: , , ,
One comment on “Can Music Help Shape Who We Are?
  1. Tamara M says:

    Spot on, Mar.! Thanks for this insightful blog. Everybody needs music!

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