Music Education Benefits

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Most children love music class. I remember looking forward to music class when I was a young student in elementary school. We sang songs read from hand-written overhead transparencies as our music teacher banged out the melodies on an old piano. We all came out of music class feeling joyful, and would continue singing the songs as we walked down the hallway back to our classroom. To this day I (along with several of my old classmates), can remember the lyrics and melodies to a few of the more memorable songs from grade school music class and chorus. However, I will refrain from belting out those old tunes at this time! The school provided musical instrument lessons to students when they reached fourth grade. We know now that musical instruction provides much more than simply experiencing the sheer joy of music. Scientific evidence proves that musical instruction skills actually help students. These benefits are applicable to the general student body, and for disabled and/or special needs students.

Musical Instruction can lead to success in school:

Success in society is predicated on success in school. Skills learned through the discipline of music transfer to study skills, communication skills, and cognitive skills useful in every part of the curriculum. There are a number of hard facts reported about the ways that music study is correlated with success in school:

* A study of 237 second grade children used piano keyboard training and newly designed math software to demonstrate improvement in math skills. The group scored 27% higher on proportional math and fractions tests than children that used only the math software. Graziano, Amy, Matthew Peterson, and Gordon Shaw, "Enhanced learning of proportional math through music training and spatial-temporal training." Neurological Research 21 (March 1999).

* In an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data on more than 25,000 secondary school students (NELS:88, National Education Longitudinal Survey), researchers found that students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show "significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12." This observation holds regardless of students' socio-economic status, and differences in those who are involved with instrumental music vs. those who are not is more significant over time. Catterall, James S., Richard Chapleau, and John Iwanaga. "Involvement in the Arts and Human Development: General Involvement and Intensive Involvement in Music and Theater Arts." Los Angeles, CA: The Imagination Project at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, 1999.

* Students with coursework/experience in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT: students in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on the math, and students in music appreciation scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on the math, than did students with no arts participation. College-Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers. Princeton, NJ: The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001.

* 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 Education 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-...
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