Why Learn Music?

There is a possibility you want your child to learn music because you have dreams of raising a classical virtuoso, an international rock star or a jazz legend. There are few shortcuts to such greatness; the route to Carnegie Hall is still ‘practice, practice, practice’, despite the glittering promises of TV talent shows. It is claimed that mastering anything -including music – takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. At the rate of one hour a day, that would take nearly 30 years! Unless your child is internally driven to make music (enjoying studying for hours alone, preferring practice to visiting friends and video games, etc) it is unlikely they will make a career from playing music. So, why bother?

Most parents know intuitively that learning to play music helps in other areas of education and personal development. Maybe you’ve read how music students are better at learning languages, or perhaps you played music at school and remember how it boosted your self-confidence? Scientists continue to gather mountains of evidence linking music-making with improvements in almost every aspect of life: language, reasoning, mathematics, creativity, problem solving, cultural awareness, health, fine-motor skills, self-discipline, teamwork, concentration, stress relief, memory, self-confidence, time management, patience, hand-eye coordination, socialization… The question should be: why doesn’t everyone learn music?

 

A group of preschoolers received private piano keyboard lessons and singing lessons. A second group received private computer lessons. Those children who received piano/keyboard training performed 34 percent higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than those who received computer training.

~Neurological Research February 28, 1997

A ten-year study, tracking more than 25,000 students, shows that music-making improves test scores. Regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students get higher marks in standardized tests than those who had no music involvement. The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the SAT, but also in reading proficiency exams.

~Dr. James Catterall, UCLA, 1997

Second-grade students were given four months of piano keyboard training, as well as time using newly designed math software. The group scored over 27 percent higher on proportional math and fractions tests than children who used only the math software.

                        ~Neurological Research March, 1999

Secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs).

~Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report. January 1998

Middle school and high school students who participated in instrumental music scored significantly higher than their non-band peers in standardized tests. University studies conducted in Georgia and Texas found significant correlations between the number of years of instrumental music instruction and academic achievement in math, science and language arts.

~University of Sarasota Study, Jeffrey Lynn Kluball;
East Texas State University Study, Daryl Erick Trent

College-age musicians are emotionally healthier than their non-musician counterparts. A study conducted at the University of Texas looked at 362 students who were in their first semester of college. They were given three tests, measuring performance anxiety, emotional concerns and alcohol related problems. In addition to having fewer battles with the bottle, researchers also noted that the college-aged music students seemed to have surer footing when facing tests.

~Houston Chronicle, January 11, 1998

A McGill University study found that pattern recognition and mental representation scores improved significantly for students given piano instruction over a three-year period. They also found that self-esteem and musical skills measures improved for the students given piano instruction.

~Dr. Eugenia Costa-Giomi, Phoenix, AZ, April, 1998

According to statistics compiled by the National Data Resource Center, students who can be classified as “disruptive” (based on factors such as frequent skipping of classes, times in trouble, in-school suspensions, disciplinary reasons given, arrests, and drop-outs) total 12.14 percent of the total school population. In contrast, only 8.08 percent of students involved in music classes meet the same criteria as “disruptive.”

~Based on data from the NELS:88 (National Education Longitudinal Study), second follow-up, 1992.

Data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 showed that music participants received more academic honors and awards than non-music students, and that the percentage of music participants receiving As, As/Bs, and Bs was higher than the percentage of non-participants receiving those grades.

~National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988
First Follow-Up (1990),US Department of Education.

Young children with developed rhythm skills perform better academically in early school years. Findings of a recent study showed that there was a significant difference in the academic achievement levels of students classified according to rhythmic competency. Students who were achieving at academic expectation scored high on all rhythmic tasks, while many of those who scored lower on the rhythmic test achieved below academic expectation.

~”The Relationship between Rhythmic Competency and Academic Performance in First Grade Children,” University of Central Florida, Debby Mitchell

A University of California (Irvine) study showed that after eight months of keyboard lessons, preschoolers showed a 46% boost in their spatial reasoning IQ.

~Rauscher, Shaw, Levine, Ky and Wright, “Music and Spatial Task Performance: A Causal Relationship,” University of California, Irvine, 1994

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Why Learn Music?

  1. As both a school and private music teacher, I have preached the above message over and over. It is still difficult for a lot of people to get their heads around. The attitude that the arts are “a frill” is buried somewhere deep in our collective, Puritanically driven, psyche. More publication of these facts, as done in this forum, is a huge help! Thank you!

Leave a Reply