Music Education Improves Academic Performance
Music educators have always believed that a child’s cognitive, motivational, and communication skills are more highly developed when exposed to music training. Now, study after study proves that music instruction is essential to children’s overall education because it improves their academic performance. The positive effects of music education are finally being recognized by science, verifying what music teachers have always suspected.
Music enters the brain through the ears. Pitch, melody, and intensity of notes are processed in several areas of the brain such as the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, and the frontal lobes. Both the ...view middle of the document...
Exposure to music helps a child analyze the harmonic vowel sounds of language as well as sequence words and ideas. Another curriculum area enhanced by music participation is reading. A child who participates in music activities experiences sensory integration, a crucial factor in reading readiness. Wilson’s study (1989) reveals that music instruction enhances a student’s ability to perform skills necessary for reading including listening, anticipating, forecasting, memory training, recall skills, and concentration techniques.
Mathematics is the academic subject most closely connected with music. Music helps students count, recognize geometric shapes, understand ratios and proportions, and the frameworks of time. Researcher Gordon Shaw (1993) found that piano instruction enhances the brain’s ability for spatial-temporal reasoning, or the ability to visualize and transform objects in space and time. This translates into a student’s heightened ability to understand fractions, geometric puzzles, math problems, and math puzzles. T. Armstrong (1988) reports that music educator, Grace Nash, found that by incorporating music into her math lessons, her students were able to learn multiplication tables and math formulas more easily. Teacher Eli Moar (1999) believes that arithmetic progressions in music correspond to geometric progressions in mathematics and that the relation between the two subjects is logarithmic.
At every age, exposure to music training effects academic performance. Susan Black (1997) reports that newborn babies have mechanisms in their brains devoted exclusively to music. These mechanisms help the newborns organize and develop their brains.
Rauscher’s study (1997) indicates that just fifteen minutes a week of keyboard instruction, along with group singing, dramatically improved the kind of intelligence that is needed for pre-school students to understand higher levels of math and science.
Her test results showed a 46% improvement in the spatial IQs for the young musician compared to only 6% for non-musicians.
Grade school music students also show increased learning in math and reading. The Public Schools of Albuquerque, NM, conducted a study (n.d.) which found that instrumental music students, with two or more years of study, scored significantly higher in the California Test of Basic Skills, (CTBS), than did non-music students. High school students also achieve greater academic excellence when exposed to music training. A study by Mission Veijo High School in Southern California (1981) shows that the overall grade point average of music students is consistently higher than the grade point average of their non-music peers. The music students achieved a 3.59 average while the non-music students achieved a lower 2.91 average.
Almost every college bound high school student must take the SAT college entrance exam. The College Entrance Examination Board at Princeton, NJ, (1999) reports that music students continue to...