Here are a few ways that music education fosters better students:
- Better pattern recognition. Music is built on the idea of patterns. You have melodies, counter-melodies, harmonies, refrains, and all sorts of themes that repeat themselves in a given piece. As students study music, they learn to recognize those patterns, as well as the variances between the components. This helps with a number of other academic areas, from grammar to biology.
- Increased awareness of real-life science applications. There are many aspects of music education that relate directly to science, especially physical science. For example, understanding things like pitch and acoustics can enhance a student's understanding of sound and how it works from the physical perspective.
- Higher scores on standardized tests. A 10-year study directed by the USDoE showed that music students scored better on standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT than students without music education. In fact, these numbers were true regardless of socioeconomic status, suggesting that music education can actually help to increase students' earning potential and, ultimately, their own socioeconomic status.
- Less drug use. According to a study in Texas, students that engage in instrumental music education have the lowest overall lifetime use and abuse statistics for illicit drugs, alcohol, and even tobacco. This helps create a more positive environment academically, and raises the overall safety and security of a given school.
- Better time management and organization. It's ironic, but studies show that busier students actually tend to perform much better academically. With more activities and priorities to balance, they are more likely to learn time management and organization skills.
On top of all of that, music education can help students improve their lives in a number of ways that aren't directly related to academics. For example, students that have been exposed to music education in school:
- Tend to be more multicultural in their views. Exposure to music from all sorts of traditions can encourage children to be empathetic and understanding of cultural differences. They can also appreciate a wider range of musical and artistic styles.
- Often have a greater appreciation for the arts. Students that are involved in music often see that passion extend into other areas, such as an interest in performance art or visual art.
- Understand concepts of teamwork as well as individuality. Similar to participating in sports, music education lends itself to a greater understanding of what it means to work together as a team. The marching band or the choir might perform on a regular basis, and each member has to do their part to make the whole sound like it should. At the same time, there are opportunities for individuals to shine, as well. Solo performances, both in a concert setting and a competitive setting, really allow musicians to shine on their own.
- Leave school with a network of peers set on the road for success. When band or choir students leave school, their network of peers usually includes people that will experience, on average, greater degrees of success in life. This leads to all sorts of opportunities down the road, whether that's in further academic studies, in a career, in starting a business, or any number of areas.
All around, music education improves the lives of students. Encourage your child to participate in music education, and she'll learn valuable lessons and skills that can last a lifetime.
Suzy St. George is a blog writer at TakeLessons. Since 2006, TakeLessons has provided affordable, hassle-free music lessons to students of all ages. With certified instructors in cities nationwide, students can learn to play the guitar, the piano, drums and more.