The Global Language of Music: The Impact of Organized Music Experiences on Success in Undergraduate Nursing Programs

Thursday, 2 August 2012: 8:50 AM

Sandra Cesario, PhD, RNC, FAAN
College of Nursing, Texas Woman's University - Houston, Houston, TX
Robert Cesario, DA, MM, MA, BFA
Arts, Languages, and Philosophy Department, Missouri University of Science & Technology, Rolla, MO
Anthony Cesario, MM, BM
Music Department, Jackson Intermediate School, Pasadena Independent School District, Pasadena, TX

Learning Objective 1: Describe the impact of formal music instruction on congnitve and social abilities.

Learning Objective 2: Analyze the feasibility of incorporating an assessment of prior music instruction into the admission criteria for undergraduate nursing programs.


Music, the universal language, transcends ethnic, socio-economic, and geographic barriers and has the potential to enhance success of nursing students. Stringent admission criteria exist for nursing programs worldwide, but better predictors of success are needed to reduce nursing school attrition rates. Admitting students unlikely to succeed expends sparse resources of time, money, and clinical space. Organized music experiences are associated with greater ability in math, reading, cognition, critical thinking, verbal skills, motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork – desirable characteristics of a professional nurse. This study examined the association of organized music experiences in grades 5-12 and nursing education success.


Exploratory, online, survey-design study with interprofessional collaboration between nursing and music. The target population is nursing program graduates in Texas USA and students enrolled in the same programs who were not successful in program completion.


Undergraduate nursing students who participated in organized music instruction in grades 5 through 12 were more likely to graduate from their nursing programs, had higher GPAs upon exit from their programs, and were more likely to pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam on the first attempt than students who did not have this experience. There is a positive relationship between the extent/duration of participation in organized music instruction and final/exit grade point averages of undergraduate nursing students


Participation in organized music instruction during grades 5-12 is associated with greater nursing student success.  This criterion can be added as an indicator of potential success during the admissions process. Organized music participation data is objective, quantifiable, and can be collected quickly and inexpensively. Music in public schools is available to all students in Texas mediating bias of race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. When selecting students for a limited number of slots offered by nursing schools, valid predictive criteria are essential.