Benefits of Music Education

Benefit One: Success in Society

Music is a part of the fabric of our society. The intrinsic value of music for each individual is widely recognized in the many cultures that make up American life — indeed, every human culture uses music to carry forward its ideas and ideals. The importance of music to our economy is without doubt. The value of music in shaping individual abilities and character are attested in a number of places:

“In my own philanthropy and business endeavors, I have seen the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and in developing vital communities…the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery, and achievement in our country.” –Paul G. Allen, Co-Founder, Microsoft

“Music is a magical gift we must nourish and cultivate in our children, especially now as scientific evidence proves that an education in the arts makes better math and science students, enhances spatial intelligence in newborns, and let’s not forget that the arts are a compelling solution to teen violence, certainly not the cause of it!”— Michael Greene, Recording Academy President and CEO at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards, February 2000.

Benefit Two: Success in School

Success in society, of course, is predicated on success in school. Any music teacher or parent of a music student can call to mind anecdotes about effectiveness of music study in helping children become better students. Skills learned through the discipline of music, transfer to study skills, communication skills, and cognitive skills useful in every part of the curriculum. The discipline of music study — particularly through participation in ensembles — helps students learn to work effectively in the school environment without resorting to violent or inappropriate behavior.

Helping our children become the most informed, well-rounded people they can be is the greatest gift we can offer them. It will allow them to embrace the world and to reach their full potential…In addition…music education can provide students with a strong sense of determination, improved communication skills, and a host of other qualities essential for successful living.” Edward H. Rensi—President, McDonalds

“The term ‘core academic subjects’ means English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography.” — No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, Title IX, Part A, Sec. 9101 (11)

Benefit Three: Success in Developing Intelligence

Success in school and in society depends on an array of abilities. Without joining the intense ongoing debate about the nature of intelligence as a basic ability, we can demonstrate that some measures of a child’s intelligence are indeed increased with music instruction. Once again, this burgeoning range of data supports a long-established base of anecdotal knowledge to the effect that music education makes kids smarter. What is new and especially compelling, however, is a combination of tightly-controlled behavioral studies and groundbreaking neurological research that show how music study can actively contribute to brain development:

…”listening to any music that is personally enjoyable has positive effects on cognition. In addition, the use of music to enhance memory is explored and research suggests that musical recitation enhances the coding of information by activating neural networks in a more united and thus more optimal fashion.” Science News June 22, 2006 Annals

A study from Canada suggests early music education stimulates a child’s brain, leaving to improved performance in an entirely different area–verbal intelligence. “The results are dramatic not only because they clearly connect cognitive improvement to musical training, but also because the improvements in language and attention are found in completely different domains that the one used for training.” said York University psychologist Ellen Bialystok, “This has enormous implications for development and education.”

Benefit Four: Success in Life

Each of us wants our children — and the children of all those around us — to achieve success in school, employment, and in the social structures, but we also want our children to experience “success” on a broader scale. Participation in music, brings countless benefits to each individual throughout life. The benefits may be psychological or spiritual, and they may be physical as well.

“Music can be a passport to other cultures, lives, and times. Music takes you on an adventure. An adventure that is diverse and without limits.” Vicki Griswold, Violin, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

“Music matters to me because it is the filter through which I make sense of the world around me. It succeeds in connecting us all where words fail and actions are not enough, helping me to better understand the joys and challenges of life in ways not possible through intellect alone. Music is a powerful gift, and I am a better person for it.” Brian Smith, Bass ISO