Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Music Education: Choral/Instrumental (B.M.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Laura Stambaugh


My thesis project explored the relationship between a formal music training experience and executive functions in a middle school band classroom. Executive functions are working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility which allow us to gain and focus our attention on specific tasks. Participants in the study were two groups of middle school students: a sixth-grade class with no previous musical experience and an eighth-grade class with two years of band classes. I measured changes in students' overall success on cognitive tests over a two-month span to observe at what point music training begins to impact executive functions. I found significant improvements on all executive function tasks for both groups of participants. With that information, I believe that music instruction plays a significant role in cognitive development. With a larger sample size, I believe that these results would become much more apparent.