Wednesday, January 4, 2017

[Resources] Music In Our Schools Month: The Importance of Music Education

An overview of current neuroscience research on the benefits of music education by The Royal Conservatory (Toronto, Ontario): “Your Child’s Development: Music Study May Be the Best Tool”


A wealth of scientific research over the last decade is proving that music education is a powerful tool for attaining children’s full intellectual, social, and creative potential. Musically-trained children develop to their full potential because participation in music is inherently rewarding, making children more likely to devote the time and practice necessary to develop strong cognitive and social abilities.

Musical activity involves nearly every region of the brain that we know about. Most importantly, music gives children a means to express themselves, to unleash their creativity, and to be inspired by their own boundless capacity for personal growth. For more than 127 years, The Royal Conservatory of Music has contributed to the musical education of millions of Canadians, as well as to their academic success and social well-being. The research we highlight in this document offers compelling insights into the powerful, long-term value children gain through music study.

“The Benefits of Music Education” from the VH1 Save the Music Foundation 

Stanford University research has found for the first time that musical training improves how the brain processes the spoken word, a finding that researchers say could lead to improving the reading ability of children who have dyslexia and other reading problems... ‘Especially for children ... who aren't good at rapid auditory processing and are high-risk for becoming poor readers, they may especially benefit from musical training.’ (“Playing music can be good for your brain,” SF Chronicle, November 17, 2005)

The musician is constantly adjusting decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling – training the brain to become incredibly good at organizing and conducting numerous activities at once. Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attention skills, intelligence, and an ability for self-knowledge and expression. (A User’s Guide to the Brain, May 31, 2003; Ratey, John J., MD) 

“The Power of Music”: a paper from the University of London


Recent advances in the study of the brain have enhanced our understanding of the way that active engagement with music may influence other activities. The cerebral cortex self- organizes as we engage with different musical activities, skills in these areas may then transfer to other activities if the processes involved are similar. Some skills transfer automatically without our conscious awareness, others require reflection on how they might be utilized in a new situation.

“Music Education Statistics and Facts” from San Marino High School in California


Music majors are the most likely group of college grads to be admitted to medical school. (Lewis Thomas, Case for Music in the Schools, Phi Delta Kappa, 1994)

Students who participate in school band or orchestra have the lowest levels of current and
lifelong use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs among any group in our society. (H. Con. Res. 266, United States Senate, June 13, 2000)

78% of Americans feel learning a musical instrument helps students perform better in other
subjects. (Gallup Poll, "American Attitudes Toward Music," 2003)

Nine out of ten adults and teenagers who play instruments agree that music making brings the family closer together. (Music Making and Our Schools, American Music Conference, 2000)

“How Music Education Helps Students Learn, Achieve and Succeed” from the Arts Education Partnership


Improves recall and retention of verbal information. Musical training develops the region of the brain responsible for verbal memory—the recall and retention of spoken words—which serves as a foundation for retaining information in all academic subjects. Music students who were tested for verbal memory showed a superior recall for words as compared to non-music students (Ho et al., 1998; 2003).

Advances math achievement. Students who study music outperform their non-music peers in assessments of math, and the advantage that music provides increases over time. These  ndings hold true regardless of socio-economic status and race/ethnicity (Baker, 2011; Catterall, 1998). Additionally, students involved in instrumental music do better in algebra, a gateway for later achievement (Helmrich, 2010; U.S. National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008).

Research compiled by NAMM (North American Musical Merchants on “How Children Benefit from Music Education in Schools”


With music in schools, students connect to each other better—greater camaraderie, fewer fights, less racism and reduced use of hurtful sarcasm. (Source: Jensen, E., Arts With the Brain In Mind, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001.)

The vast majority—96 percent—of the school principals interviewed in a recent study agree that participation in music education encourages and motivates students to stay in school. Further, 89 percent of principals feel that a high-quality music education program contributes to their school achieving higher graduation rates. (Source: Harris Interactive Poll, 2006)

The skills gained through sequential music instruction, including discipline and the ability to analyze, solve problems, communicate and work cooperatively, are vital for success in the 21st century workplace. (Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Concurrent Resolution 355, March 6, 2006)

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