Dr. Margaret Martin is a doctor of public health. She is the founder and national director of Harmony Project, a music-based mentoring program that provides instruments and tuition-free music lessons and ensemble opportunities to thousands of the most vulnerable children in Los Angeles as a means of positive youth development, social inclusion, and community safety. Harmony Project has garnered two Presidential awards since 2009. Affiliated programs have launched across seven states. Findings of her research collaboration with Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Lab show that intensive music training significantly improves cognitive function in disadvantaged children, especially for language processing and reading.
In addition to presenting to teachers, parents, and administrators, Martin seeks to reach city and state leaders to focus on the use of music as a research-based (and evidence-based) public health intervention to improve student behavior and achievement along with school and community safety. These leaders may include legislators, mayors, police chiefs and sheriffs, public health departments, justice system workers and social services agents. She has seen that communities are hungry for models that work. Her more than 14 years experience within Los Angeles gang zones has intervened so that currently 2,000 children are engaged in intensive music training and performance ensembles, 5-10 hours per week, year-round -- instead of getting into trouble.