Added Value: Music Unlocks Your Children’s Potential
As part of our new Added Value blog series, we will demonstrate how Teach Major could positively contribute towards important factors – such as pupil well-being and grades – and explain how to squeeze the most out of our services. We are more than a specialist music provision service – we are family; our desire is to see schools and pupils flourish.
The increasing pressure
With a whopping 74% of head teachers admitting that, when it comes to the SATs, they “teach to the test” the UK has a serious problem. Why has this behaviour become commonplace?
The simple answer: the results of SATs are not only used to compare children, but to compare schools, and contribute to Ofsted reports. So, it’s no surprise that a recent report by Tom Burkard – The Maths Revolution: The Case for Traditional Arithmetic – claimed, “Ofsted reports are often counter-productive and add to the workloads of overstretched teachers”.
While Burkard was primarily referring to the impact of the additional pressures Ofsted places on how mathematics is taught in schools, many teachers can sympathise with other problems arising from such a heavy focus on core subjects. For example, in order to keep up with the demand for the provision for core subjects, the arts and humanities have suffered huge budget cuts – with music alone suffering a £2.8 billion cut in since 2015.
These cuts suggest that music is of little value, beyond entertainment. But, let’s examine the largely overlooked benefits of music in the school curriculum…
The benefits of music education
Ironically, given the government’s routine cuts to music budgets in favour of numeracy and literacy provision, a report by Professor Sue Hallam MBE identified a positive correlation between regular musical study and intelligence. And this is corroborated by a study by Schellenberg (2011), which demonstrated that musically trained pupils (aged 9-12) achieved higher IQ scores than those without musical training, despite test subjects coming from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.
But, beyond a higher IQ, music contributes positively to a range of factors.
Mary L Cohen et. Al (2018) argued that – whether undertaken with partners, small groups or large groups – musical or movement imitation supports validation of individual creative expression. Cohen highlighted that this is important to help children develop a range of skills to develop both individually and socially. Particularly, for SEN pupils, Elaine Goodman (2002) identified that performing alongside others encourages aptitude in anticipation and reaction, continual feedback, aural and visual signals, eye contact, gestures and body movements. This is great practice for giving and receiving signals and cues, which helps children to share their own identity, as well as integrating into the group.
When taught with a child-centred approach, music education allows children to explore and experiment with sound, which is crucial in helping to develop musical understanding and skills. According to McPherson and Welch (2018), creative opportunities – whereby learners can make suggestions and investigate factors like timbre, dynamics and tempo – boost confidence as children derive satisfaction, enjoyment, and a sense of ownership over the project.
Students with an involvement in the arts have been proven to demonstrate increased academic improvement, argues Wetter et al (2009). This includes improved performance on standardised reading and verbal assessments, verbal skills, reading for enjoyment, literacy, and numeracy skills. Bamford (2006) demonstrated that numeracy skills and mathematical reasoning improved by up to 15%, though the average was 6%. That small amount could make a huge difference in the grades awarded to pupils overall.
Inevitably, children benefitting from positive social relationships, improved confidence and increased academic improvement will be presented with greater opportunities with regards to socio-economic prospects. For example, their improved grades might open better opportunities for schooling or prospective careers, or even – on a more fundamental level – higher levels of confidence and the ability to manage social relationships might improve resilience and adaptability, enabling children to climb the career ladder later in life.
Overall, music has wide-reaching benefits for learners, and should not be dismissed as simply a “nice” subject to add to the curriculum. Music is crucial to children developing a range of soft-skills, which are transferrable to the study of other subjects, but can also be taken with them throughout their lives. It is our responsibility, as educators, to maintain a varied curriculum; after all, we all started our teaching careers with the children’s best interests at heart, but that often – understandably – gets quashed by the continually expanding pressures on schools and children to reach specified attainment levels. However, if we begin to acknowledge the value of music, we can help our children to improve their prospects in an enjoyable manner.
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