The Win-Win team has modeled the Harmony Project in Los Angeles, CA

"Music has crafted me into someone I take pride in being"

-Daniel, flute, 2015 Harmony Project Graduate

The Harmony Project is a music-based mentoring program for children from low-income neighborhoods. The program provides after-school high-quality music instruction, instruments, cultural field trips and performance opportunities to children from elementary school through high school.

Children must commit to 2 hours of after-school instruction per week with regular one-on-one progress check-ins with their instructor. They are also given their instrument of choice to bring home and practice 3 hours per week. The program also engages the students' family and connects parents with supportive services

This program currently serves about 2,000 students in Los Angeles schools and is expanding nationwide. 

There has not yet been a full evaluation of the Harmony Project. Therefore, we searched for literature that evaluated each of the major components of the Harmony Project: high-quality musical education, intellectual after-school programming, and middle and high school mentoring through a common interest in music. Music education has not been adequately studied, so this analysis focused on the other two components of Harmony Project.

1) an elementary after-school program for children in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade and

2) a mentorship program for children in 6th through 12th grade.

The outcomes above come from previously studied programs. For most outcomes, Harmony Project will have a stronger effect because in comparison to the other programs studied, Harmony Project has:

- Professionally trained music teachers

- Greater hours of guided, group music instruction

- Greater emphasis on personal responsibility of at-home practice

- Participation in ensemble performances

- More years spent in the program

- Cultivation of social cohesion through a common interest in music with their peers and teachers


In addition to a stronger impact on the outcomes measured by other studies, we would expect an evaluation of the Harmony Project to find an effect on the following outcomes:

- College attendance, grades and retention

- Teenage pregnancy

- Depression and mental health

- Suicide

- Wages and employment

- Parent high school graduation, use of social services and substance use

- Classroom disruption

- Peers' education 

Harmony Project requires highly trained musical instructors in order to be implemented effectively. Instructors lead large ensembles but also work more closely with individual students. The students also have to commit to practice a certain number of hours per week and attend practice with their ensemble. Furthermore, the program requires space, preferably one that is accessible for students and families in the afternoons once students are let out from school.

To estimate the impact of a program or policy, we use systematic literature reviews to determine causal pathways and effect sizes. Well-researched interventions that have robust, high-quality evaluations allow us to model the impact of an intervention with greater certainty. However, sometimes interventions have limited evidence and not all of the outcomes that are likely to be associated with the intervention have been studied. In those cases, we can only model what is available in the evidence base. We urge future research to take the following gaps into consideration. 

- College attendance, grades and retention

- Teenage pregnancy

- Depression and mental health

- Suicide

- Wages and employment

- Parent high school graduation, use of social services and substance use

- Classroom disruption

- Peers' education