Important Ways Music Education Benefits Students


Researchers increasingly are finding that “do-re-mi” may be just as essential to children’s development as “A-B-C.” Music education, which was once required in the classroom, is increasingly absent from school curriculums. However, proponents feel there should be a greater push for musical education as part of school curricula because of the many benefits students reap from music education.

Taps into multiple skill sets

Music participation goes beyond playing an instrument or singing notes from a page. Experts at Music Together, an early childhood music development program, say that participating in music education involves many different skills, including listening, vision, fine motor skills, problem solving, and utilizing large and small muscle groups.

Transformative effects

A growing body of research points to music for its transformative effects on youngsters. Participation in music education may help improve communication skills, foster better memory and help children focus their attention more effectively, according to the instrument retailer Zing Instruments. Music may provide the common ground to unite children in pursuit of a common goal.

Improves language skills

Neurobiologist Dr. Nina Kraus participated in “The Harmony Project,” which involved a series of experiments among second and third graders. Dr. Kraus discovered conclusively that music enhanced sound processing and cognitive skills (memory and attention). Music helps students develop the left side of the brain, which is known for processing language. A 2014 study by Arete Music Academy found children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than those who do not participate in music education.

More consistent attendance rates

The National Association for Music Education determined that schools that offer music education have better attendance rates (93.3 percent) than those that don’t (84.9 percent).

Higher grades

A study in The Journal for Research in Music Education found that students who participated in excellent music programs scored higher on tests in mathematics and English/language than students enrolled in lower-quality music programs or none at all. Researchers concluded there is a correlation between music education and better retention of material.

Support from parents and teachers

Both educators and parents strongly believe that music education has a positive impact on overall academic performance, indicates NAMM Foundation and Grunwald Associates LLC. They also feel that budget cuts in music education or deficits in supplies and insufficient allocation of resources is detrimental to students.

Increased IQ scores

An experiment published in a 2004 issue of Psychological Science conducted by E. Glenn Schellenberg at The University of Toronto at Mississauga found that, over the course of nine months, six-year-old participants who were given piano and voice lessons tested on average three IQ points higher than those who had drama lessons only or no lessons at all. 

Music education plays an important role in the lives of students, paying dividends that might surprise even those devoted to ensuring school curriculums include it.

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