Music education rarely comes into public focus. It is often considered less important than some other school activities. Some people even claim that music education is unnecessary or redundant. Guided by this idea, president Trump proposed budget cuts that could make a huge impact on arts and music programs in schools all over the US. These cuts brought music education and importance of music (and art in general) once again into the center of attention. Although Trump’s budget plan is just a proposal, and the Congress has the final word, the very idea of diminishing the significance of music education motivated us to try to explain how great impact could music have on anyone’s life. By elaborating 10 benefits of music in our schools, we will hopefully prove that music education is absolutely necessary, and that music has such a positive impact on everyone’s personal development, especially on children’s development in primary and secondary schools.
Improvement of Spatial-Temporal Reasoning
We decided to start with something that was scientifically proven and known as Mozart effect. A group of scientists from the Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory conducted an experiment, which proved that listening to Mozart’s sonata for two pianos for a short period of time can temporarily improve spatial skills. These findings give us the right to assume that continuous exposure to music could be beneficial to school children, and could improve their understanding of geometry, engineering, computer programming, and every other activity that requires good spatial reasoning.
Language and Literacy Development
Studies showed that involvement in musical training improves phonetic and language skills. Even short engagement in musical training has great influence on development of specific parts of the brain and processing systems, which enable recognition and understanding of speech and sounds. If the child is engaged in musical training from the early age, it will definitely develop language skills earlier. Development of literacy, reading and reading comprehension is closely related to language development. Some studies showed that music can be beneficial even for children with dyslexia and can lead to improvement in reading and reading comprehension.
Being involved in musical training can improve creativity, critical, and abstract thinking. Studies on creativity and music education showed that students involved in any type of musical training achieved better results on creativity tests than others. Furthermore, during the studies, students were faced with problematic situations, and those involved in some type of music education showed greater creativity in handling these situations. It is also important to note that type of musical training determines the amount of creativity. If the child is involved in music lessons that allow improvisation, creative thinking will develop faster than if there is no improvisation allowed.
Improvement of Social and Interpersonal Skills
Music education and involvement in musical training can have multiple positive effects on social development of a child. Children participating in musical training are more aware of others and have more appreciation for other people. They are better team workers and they have better sense of responsibility and can express themselves appropriately. Through the musical training, students learn to support each other and work towards the common goal. Music also enables development of emotional intelligence – one study showed that by learning to recognize emotions behind some classical music piece, students at the same time learn to recognize and understand emotions in real life. In short, participating in music can be extremely beneficial for building character and personality.
Improved self-confidence is highly related to development of social and interpersonal skills. Being involved in musical training, working with others towards the same goal, and encouraging each other to be better, are essential things for building the sense of self-accomplishment, and along with self-accomplishment comes the sense of self-assurance. This sense is not only music-related, but it follows students through all school activities. Thanks to it, students will not only be better at playing an instrument, but there is strong possibility that improved self-confidence will boost overall school performance.
Improved Math Skills
We’ve already mentioned Mozart’s effect and improvement of spatial reasoning based on listening to Mozart’s piano sonata. Studies showed that music can also improve math skills, and there are even studies that use official statistical data to prove that involvement in musical training has influence on math proficiency. It is maybe interesting to mention that not all types of musical training have the same effect on someone’s ability to solve math problems. According to Rauscher’s study, children practicing percussion and rhythm instruments achieved better results, than children practicing other instruments.
Well, this one is pretty obvious and probably everyone can intuitively relate music with stress relief. You can either listen to music or practice some instrument, and be assured that you will feel more relaxed after that. That’s important because stress-free students achieve better results and pay more attention in class. Some scientists like Clift and Hancox examined influence of music (singing in a choir, to be precise) on psychological well-being, and proved beyond any doubt that music can reduce stress, and even more, music can be beneficial for breathing, posture, heart, and immune system.
Better SAT Results and Higher Graduation Rates
When you combine some of the previously mentioned benefits of music in our schools, or maybe all of them, you will easily understand why students involved in musical training achieve better SAT scores and have higher graduation rate than those who are not. When you combine improved language and literacy development, improvement of math skills, and spatial reasoning you get better SAT scores, and when you add improved social and interpersonal skills, improved self-confidence and stress relief, you will understand that there is nothing that could stop students involved in music from graduating.
Improved General Achievement
The influence of engagement in music expands to more areas of life than just school. So, apart from the improvement of the academic achievement, students involved in musical training are more likely to be successful outside the school – they will make friendships easier, understand and resolve all the life problems quicker, with more creativity and self-esteem, and they will be calmer when it comes to some crisis. To simplify, being involved in musical training gives you the basis to handle all the life challenges in a fashion that will make you feel like a winner.
Music is Remedy
Music has been used as a part of therapy for many illnesses for centuries. We mentioned above that music can be beneficial for breathing, posture, heart, and immune system. Music, especially practicing some rhythm instruments, can also be beneficial for children with undeveloped motor skills. Also, musical training has proven to be great tool for successful inclusion of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in general education. Some studies showed that children with ASD improved their motor skills, verbal and non-verbal communication, and were more socialized thanks to musical training. Furthermore, music in schools can be beneficial to children with mental disorders like depression and anxiety.
We hope this article helped you understand some of the benefits of music in our schools, but you should know this is just a partial list of positive effects that music can have on students. If you want to find out more, we recommend reading some of our other articles about benefits of music in child development or benefits of listening to music while studying.