In recent years, schools have had to make tough choices regarding the classes they offer their students. Budget limitations, student interest, academic standards, and a host of other factors have led to the removal of music education from many schools’ curricula. Is music education really that important? What benefits, if any, are there to the student and society? The answers may surprise you.
1. Improves language and reasoning skills.
Multiple studies have demonstrated a clear link between music and language development. The left side of the brain—the part of the brain that handles reasoning and language—is also the side that music education develops. Music education can actually help a student’s brain form new circuits and imprint information.
2. Develops problem solving skills.
Students who study fine arts, including music, are more likely to have a higher level of problem solving abilities. They are able to see varied solutions to problems and can reject the “typical” assumptions of how to do things.
3. Encourages high standards of excellence.
Including music education in a curriculum encourages students to aim for new levels of success. Music is a form of craftsmanship—an opportunity for the musician to actively work toward creating something of beauty. The desire to improve their craft often motivates students to aspire for greatness in music, and may carry over into other academic subjects as well.
4. Increases auditory development.
Listening to music critically can increase a young child’s ability to detect patterns in sound, as well as identify nuances in vocal inflection. A child who learns music is more equipped to classify sounds, volume, and tones in the world around them.
5. Promotes a sense of global community.
Music is a universal language that helps connect students to the world around them through an appreciation for songs. Studying the music of other cultures enlarges the student’s view of the world and can help develop empathy and compassion—character traits that are necessary for becoming a caring adult and good citizen.
6. Benefits society as a whole.
Children who study music in band or orchestra are less likely to engage in risky behavior such as drug or alcohol abuse. By staying active in extra-curricular activities, students can avoid patterns of behavior that have long-term effects on their own life and society as a whole.
7. Encourages academic success.
When a student is involved in music education, he or she is more likely to stay in school and do better academically overall. Many students who may be considered at risk of dropping out of school will remain in school because of their love of music. In addition, students in music classes tend to perform better in other subjects as well.
8. Provides a means of self-expression.
Through music, children learn alternative ways to express their feelings and emotions. Music gives voice to the things that children may not be able to say and provides them with a safe way to recognize their own feelings. Self-discovery is an important facet of self-esteem and has long-term effects on the well-being of an individual. Developing positive self-esteem early in life benefits a child enormously long term.
9. Teaches confidence.
Music often provides a child’s first experience with public performance, which can be nerve-wracking. Learning to conquer that fear and anxiety is an invaluable skill that will help children throughout their lives, when they experience a challenge of any kind. Mastering a difficult piece of music, learning to play an instrument, and performing in front of an audience builds self-confidence and pride.
10. Improves spatial intelligence.
Studies have shown there is a link between music and spatial intelligence. Spatial intelligence refers to the ability of a person to form mental pictures of things and to perceive the physical world accurately; we use spatial intelligence in everything from mathematics to basic tasks like packing a box. Music helps the brain develop new patterns, increasing its capacity for problem solving and spatial reasoning.
11. Promotes active participation.
Studying music encourages students to actively participate in learning; picking up an instrument to play, talking with others about music, or learning the words to a song engages a student. This skill of “doing” rather than “observing” helps develop initiative and drive in students that they will use in other areas of life. By learning to create music, students can develop a greater sense of accomplishment and a stronger sense of well-being.
Music has long been considered part of the fabric of society. The importance of studying music—the skills and lessons that naturally occur as a class listens to Mozart, dances to drumbeats, and explores the dynamics of a song—cannot be overstated. Beyond encouraging a love of one of the world’s most fundamental art forms, music education enhances other areas of academics and has long-term benefits for every child.