If you’ve read any of the thousands of studies on the academic, physical, and emotional benefits of learning a musical instrument, perhaps you’re wondering too. Why is music education at the bottom, not the top, of the academic pile?
Thousands of studies can’t all be wrong, can they? And shouldn’t we believe our own experiences and observations that people who are actively studying and playing music are generally better learners plus happier and more alive?
Perhaps Learning Music is Just Too Much Fun?
Some would say that playing music is just … playing. Others contend that this mentality is not just erroneous, it’s dangerous and has resulted in an inferior national educational system that’s losing ground to other countries.
It’s become obvious that we Americans have very different opinions and points of view. But what if we just ease up and allow that?
Take music, for example. What if we push past the status quo thinking that music lessons are a frill and take it head on — knowing that so many of us are happier when we’re actively involved in music?
Says who? Thousands of studies … and our own experiences and observations.
Let’s recap a few of the benefits, just to drive home the point. Then we can spend just a minute considering why music doesn’t have its rightful place at the top, not the bottom, of the pile.
One More Time, The Benefits of Music Lessons!
You can read about the benefits elsewhere on our site (and get other points from other studies around the Net), but here’s a sampling from DoSomething.org:
Children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons.
Children with learning disabilities or dyslexia who tend to lose focus with more noise could benefit greatly from music lessons.
Music programs are constantly in danger of being cut from shrinking school budgets even though they’re proven to improve academics.
Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.
In the past, secondary students who participated in a music group at school reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs).
Schools with music programs have an estimated 90.2% graduation rate and 93.9% attendance rate compared to schools without music education, which average 72.9% graduation and 84.9% attendance.
Regardless of socioeconomic status or school district, students (3rd graders) who participate in high-quality music programs score higher on reading and spelling tests.
A Stanford study shows that music engages areas of the brain which are involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in our memory.
Much like expert technical skills, mastery in arts and humanities is closely correlated to a greater understanding of language components.
Young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year, compared to children who do not receive musical training.
Schools that have music programs have an attendance rate of 93.3% compared to 84.9% in schools without music programs.
We could fill a book with just links to the other thousands of studies about the benefits of music, and if you haven’t read our page and other posts, we hope you will. But just for a sec now, might we wonder what’s keeping music down?
Why Is Music on the Bottom of the Pile?
The U.S. government funds and sets the benchmarks for U.S. public education, and although there are some private schools that offer music it’s often secondary or after school.
So perhaps it’s time – as we said earlier – that we citizens begin to think more independently. We can advocate for music education in our schools, and also be glad that “soft skills” are gaining prominence — we can also skip the wait and get our children started in lessons right now. Oh, and by the way, fostering the ability to think independently is one of the benefits of music lessons.
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About the author : Mary Helen Rossi
Mary Helen is an on-staff creative writer for The Music Studio Atlanta and Courtnay & Rowe Music Academy.