Incorporating music into a child’s schoolday is just as important as including science and math. The benefits of a music education far exceed learning how to play a song; here are five of the many ways students of all ages benefit from access to musical education.
1. Music education directly impacts your child’s brain development.
Did you know studies have shown that music education actually wires the human brain’s circuits in specific ways? Musical training physically develops the parts of the brain that processes language, and there’s no earlier example than learning the ABCs. It turns out that singsong rhythms are pretty successful mnemonic devices that imprint information straight onto the left-hand side of the brain and that’s why so many early educational cornerstones (like the ABCs) are set to a melody. Also, while the brain continues to grow and develop for many years after birth, studies show that the brain’s development is more influenced by its environment after the age of four. The common metaphor of a child’s brain as a sponge is true then and especially applicable to auditory input: researchers believe the first decade of a child’s life is a critical period where aural knowledge acquisition is effortless. In addition to the mental, there are also significant physical benefits: children with regular and continued access to playable instruments improve their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination faster than children who don’t enjoy the same access to music education.
2. Music education teaches children the building blocks of being a good student.
While a relative handful of children who receive a music education will go on to careers within the industry, every child who participates in music classes learns invaluable techniques that will benefit them throughout their academic (and eventually, professional) life. Skills like memorisation and pattern recognition are particularly well-developed through the palatable format of hearing and playing music because the human brain does significant analytical work when listening to music — especially music with with lyrics. Recent studies have linked kids who are exposed to high-quality music education programs with increased verbal recall skills and standardised test scores of 20% higher than average.
3. Music education promotes well-developed critical reasoning skills.
Ask any educator and they’ll tell you their goals for their students extend well past the classroom — they want to produce capable adults. Music education research shows a link between experiencing music and exercising spatial intelligence, which is one’s ability to become a visual thinker. Forming mental pictures of things when they aren’t physically visible is an invaluable skill for life, whether that’s determining what you need for school the next day or how you need to plan for next month’s project management goals. When children hear and play music they are learning to identify notes and recognize patterns, which means they are synthesizing multiple information sources without even knowing it. This dramatically increases the brain’s ability for spacial intelligence, ultimately leading to a student envisioning where a piece will progress as its played, or how additional instruments might impact a piece. These kind of reasoning skills are quickly applied to other academic disciplines; in fact, studies have shown that listening to classical music, playing an instrument, or participating in a chorus over a period of time can produce students especially adept at mathematic and scientific reasoning, where spatial intelligence is a key factor.
4. Music education makes team players.
For the most part, music education in schools is a group activity and just like the notes and instruments in a harmonious piece of music have to get along, so do the members of any musical ensemble. Students who participate in music education learn teamwork skills as they build camaraderie and develop healthy foundational tools for solving interpersonal conflict. Studies have also shown music is an incredibly successful way to introduce students to other cultures and peoples, which fosters a higher level of personal empathy within students. Additionally, music education promotes and develops the skills of personal discipline, time management, and priority organisation in older students involved in music educations through musical team ensembles like band or chorale or orchestra. Ensemble students commit to learning music, practicing pieces, attending rehearsals, and maintaining their instruments on their own time in order to execute their personal role and ensure a successful group performance.
5. Music education gets kids excited to go to school.
Music stimulates the areas of the brain associated with rewards and emotions, so don’t overlook one of the biggest influences of a music education on students: a sense of excitement about learning! Introducing music in the early childhood years can help foster a positive attitude toward the concepts of learning and curiosity, as music more directly encourages use of one’s imagination. Interesting and “fun” subjects like music can keep students of all ages engaged in the entire school day; in fact, 96% of surveyed school administrators agreed that music education motivates children to stay in school and perform well in other academic subjects. Lastly, music education not only makes happier students, but more self-assured ones: student musicians build confidence through the practice and performance of challenging musical pieces which is truly invaluable as this kind of achievement can see students through difficult academic experiences in other subjects.
Music education has the ability to develop the personal, academic, social, and emotional capacities in students of all ages, and is therefore unquestionably a benefit to students of any age, in any scholastic setting.