Benefits of a music education are plentiful, and all children can benefit greatly from receiving a music education. Music education develops sophisticated cognitive learning skills, aids in mathematical understanding and develops better reading skills. Additionally, learning music is a fun way for children to develop social skills and self-esteem. The information below is from the National Association of Music Education website www.nemc.com
The benefits conveyed by music education can be grouped in 4 categories:
1 - Success in Society
2 - Success in School
3 - Success in Developing Intelligence
4 - Success in Life Benefit 1 - Success in Society
Perhaps the basic reason that every child must have an education in music is that music is a part of the fabric of our society. The intrinsic value of music for each individual is widely recognized in the many cultures that make up American life — indeed, every human culture uses music to carry forward its ideas and ideals. The importance of music to our economy is without doubt. And the value of music in shaping individual abilities and character are attested in a number of places:
Benefit 2 - Success in School
Success in society, of course, is predicated on success in school. Any music teacher or parent of a music student can call to mind anecdotes about effectiveness of music study in helping children become better students. Skills learned through the discipline of music, these stories commonly point out, transfer to study skills, communication skills, and cognitive skills useful in every part of the curriculum. Another common variety of story emphasizes the way that the discipline of music study — particularly through participation in ensembles — helps students learn to work effectively in the school environment without resorting to violent or inappropriate behavior. And there are a number of hard facts that we can report about the ways that music study is correlated with success in school:
“A study of 237 second grade children used piano keyboard training and newly designed math software to demonstrate improvement in math skills. The group scored 27% higher on proportional math and fractions tests than children that used only the math software. — Graziano, Amy, Matthew Peterson, and Gordon Shaw, "Enhanced learning of proportional math through music training and spatial-temporal training." Neurological Research 21 (March 1999).
In an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data on more than 25,000 secondary school students (NELS:88, National Education Longitudinal Survey), researchers found that students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show “significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12.” This observation holds regardless of students’ socio-economic status, and differences in those who are involved with instrumental music vs. those who are not is more significant over time. — Catterall, James S., Richard Chapleau, and John Iwanaga. “Involvement in the Arts and Human Development: General Involvement and Intensive Involvement in Music and Theater Arts.” Los Angeles, CA: The Imagination Project at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, 1999
Students with coursework/experience in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT: students in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on the math, and students in music appreciation scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on the math, than did students with no arts participation. — College-Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers. Princeton, NJ: The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001.
A study of 811 high school students indicated that the proportion of minority students with a music teacher role-model was significantly larger than for any other discipline. 36% of these students identified music teachers as their role models, as opposed to 28% English teachers, 11% elementary teachers, 7% physical education/sports teachers, 1% principals. — D.L. Hamann and L.M. Walker, "Music teachers as role models for African-American students," Journal of Research in Music Education, 41, 1993Benefit 3 - Success in Developing Intelligence
Success in school and in society depends on an array of abilities. Without joining the intense ongoing debate about the nature of intelligence as a basic ability, we can demonstrate that some measures of a child’s intelligence are indeed increased with music instruction. Once again, this burgeoning range of data supports a long-established base of anecdotal knowledge to the effect that music education makes kids smarter. What is new and especially compelling, however, is a combination of tightly-controlled behavioral studies and groundbreaking neurological research that show how music study can actively contribute to brain development:
In a study conducted by Dr. Timo Krings, pianists and non-musicians of the same age and sex were required to perform complex sequences of finger movements. Their brains were scanned using a technique called “functional magnetic resource imaging” (fMRI) which detects the activity levels of brain cells. The non-musicians were able to make the movements as correctly as the pianists, but less activity was detected in the pianists’ brains. Thus, compared to non-musicians, the brains of pianists are more efficient at making skilled movements. These findings show that musical training can enhance brain function. — Weinberger, Norm. “The Impact of Arts on Learning.” MuSICa Research Notes 7, no. 2 (Spring 2000). Reporting on Krings, Timo et al. “Cortical Activation Patterns during Complex Motor Tasks in Piano Players and Control Subjects. A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study.” Neuroscience Letters 278, no. 3 (2000): 189-93.
“A research team exploring the link between music and intelligence reported that music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning math and science. — Shaw, Rauscher, Levine, Wright, Dennis and Newcomb, "Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's spatial-temporal reasoning," Neurological Research, Vol. 19, February 1997
Researchers at the University of Montreal used various brain imaging techniques to investigate brain activity during musical tasks and found that sight-reading musical scores and playing music both activate regions in all four of the cortex's lobes; and that parts of the cerebellum are also activated during those tasks. — Sergent, J., Zuck, E., Tenial, S., and MacDonall, B. (1992). Distributed neural network underlying musical sight reading and keyboard performance. Science, 257, 106-109.
Researchers in Leipzig found that brain scans of musicians showed larger planum temporale (a brain region related to some reading skills) than those of non-musicians. They also found that the musicians had a thicker corpus callosum (the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the two halves of the brain) than those of non-musicians, especially for those who had begun their training before the age of seven. — Schlaug, G., Jancke, L., Huang, Y., and Steinmetz, H. (1994). In vivo morphometry of interhem ispheric asymmetry and connectivity in musicians. In I. Deliege (Ed.), Proceedings of the 3d international conference for music perception and cognition (pp. 417-418). Liege, Belgium.
A University of California (Irvine) study showed that after eight months of keyboard lessons, preschoolers showed a 46% boost in their spatial reasoning IQ. — Rauscher, Shaw, Levine, Ky and Wright, "Music and Spatial Task Performance: A Causal Relationship," University of California, Irvine, 1994
Researchers found that children given piano lessons significantly improved in their spatial- temporal IQ scores (important for some types of mathematical reasoning) compared to children who received computer lessons, casual singing, or no lessons. — Rauscher, F.H., Shaw, G.L., Levine, L.J., Wright, E.L., Dennis, W.R., and Newcomb, R. (1997) Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's spatial temporal reasoning. Neurological Research, 19, 1-8
A McGill University study found that pattern recognition and mental representation scores improved significantly for students given piano instruction over a three-year period. They also found that self-esteem and musical skills measures improved for the students given piano instruction. — Costa-Giomi, E. (1998, April). The McGill Piano Project: Effects of three years of piano instruction on children's cognitive abilities, academic achievement, and self-esteem. Paper presented at the meeting of the Music Educators National Conference, Phoenix, AZ.
Benefit 4 - Success in Life
Each of us wants our children — and the children of all those around us — to achieve success in school, success in employment, and success in the social structures through which we move. But we also want our children to experience “success” on a broader scale. Participation in music, often as not based on a grounding in music education during the formative school years, brings countless benefits to each individual throughout life. The benefits may be psychological or spiritual, and they may be physical as well:
“Studying music encourages self-discipline and diligence, traits that carry over into intellectual pursuits and that lead to effective study and work habits. An association of music and math has, in fact, long been noted. Creating and performing music promotes self-expression and provides self-gratification while giving pleasure to others. In medicine, increasing published reports demonstrate that music has a healing effect on patients. For all these reasons, it deserves strong support in our educational system, along with the other arts, the sciences, and athletics.” — Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Leading Heart Surgeon, Baylor College of Music.
“The nation’s top business executives agree that arts education programs can help repair weaknesses in American education and better prepare workers for the 21st century.”— “The Changing Workplace is Changing Our View of Education.” Business Week, October 1996.
“Music making makes the elderly healthier.... There were significant decreases in anxiety, depression, and loneliness following keyboard lessons. These are factors that are critical in coping with stress, stimulating the immune system, and in improved health. Results also show significant increases in human growth hormones following the same group keyboard lessons. (Human growth hormone is implicated in aches and pains.)” — Dr. Frederick Tims, reported in AMC Music News, June 2, 1999
“During the Gulf War, the few opportunities I had for relaxation I always listened to music, and it brought to me great peace of mind. I have shared my love of music with people throughout this world, while listening to the drums and special instruments of the Far East, Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Far North — and all of this started with the music appreciation course that I was taught in a third-grade elementary class in Princeton, New Jersey. What a tragedy it would be if we lived in a world where music was not taught to children.” — H. Norman Schwarzkopf, General, U.S. Army, retired
“Music is about communication, creativity, and cooperation, and, by studying music in school, students have the opportunity to build on these skills, enrich their lives, and experience the world from a new perspective.” — Bill Clinton, former President, United States of America
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