Why is music education important?
My Personal Rationale for Music Education*The following is a research based rationale written for my graduate coursework at Gordon College*
To study music is to build emotional understanding that connect us to humanity and ourselves.There is sudden emotional connection to the music listened to or played. Edward Large, PhD’s study pinpoints that musical performances charge up the brain’s emotional centers. Our emotions connect all humanity together and at the same time something deeply personal. We can be led to experience emotions in music but this cannot be taught objectively in the way we teach other core subjects. Student musicians connect their personal expression and emotions to a physical and mental exercise. The gut-level response that occurs with the appreciation and study of music is a lesson in what it means to be human. “Everything in life has two components; the functional and the aesthetic. A tree is a thing of beauty, but it contributes in a major way to our ecological system,” affirmed Kenneth H. Phillips.
Music has a positive impact on student’s cognitive growth.Music students engage their whole brain in actively listening and in actively performing it. A musician is juggling many tasks at once and it comes to no surprise that scientists want to know why and how our brains are affected by music. A study by Kraus and Chandrasekaren found that “Music training leads to changes throughout the auditory system that prime musicians for listening challenges beyond music processing. This effect of music training suggests that, akin to physical exercise and its impact on body fitness, music is a resource that tones the brain for auditory fitness.” Music instruction enhances students’ listening skills, which will benefit them in every part of their life. A 2011 study concluded that, “Music training enhances performance on a measure of verbal intelligence, with 90% of the sample showing this improvement. These improvements in verbal intelligence were positively correlated with changes in functional brain plasticity during an executive-function task.” Verbal intelligence is our ability to analyze information and solve problems by using language to reason our thoughts. Dr. Laurel Trainor found that young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year, compared to children who do not receive musical training. Musically trained children performed better in a memory test that is correlated with general intelligence skills such as literacy, verbal memory, Visio spatial processing, mathematics, and IQ. Multiple studies have proven that music develops student’s brains unlike any other endeavor.
In music class students build their sense of community.Creating music is working together in an ensemble that forms a bond, a community, social skills, and friendships. Music students build positive perception of their school environment. The community and students benefit when music students perform in hometown in parades and festivals. Students learn a sense of national pride by learning timeless patriotic songs. Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs describe that we need to feel safe, that we belong, in order to believe in ourselves. The music classroom fosters these needs by having children create music together through song, dance, use of instruments and ensemble participation. Music teaches students about morals, values, humanity and being part of the community around them.
The benefits of music instruction transcend geographical and socioeconomic differences.A goal of American public school education is to provide equal opportunities for all students to learn. Students in high-quality school music programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, regardless of the socioeconomic level of the school or school district Students in top-quality music programs scored 22% better in English and 20% better in math than students in deficient music programs. Students at schools with excellent music programs had higher English and math test scores across the country than students in schools with low-quality music programs. Students in all regions with lower-quality instrumental programs scored higher in English and math than students who had no music at all. Christopher M. Johnson and Jenny E. Memmott, University of Kansas. Over 30 studies indicate that music instruction has a significant positive effect on reading. Music provides all students an equal education no matter where they come from. High school music students have better grades than non-musicians in the same school affirm a National Educational study. Music instruction provides students with improved test scores no matter where they live.
Music education provides students with the skills necessary for success in the 21st century.These skills included collaboration, communication, creativity, and perseverance. All of which are learned in the music classroom. Musicians learn how to collaborate, leaving differences as side to work together to attain a common goal, a performance. Students learn that collaboration means they must be accountable since other musicians are dependent on them. In order to put on a successful concert every student must communicate. Musicians are given music notation and it a roadmap but many musical details are left out. Together they are open to other views of others and understand the better the teamwork the more powerful their musical performance will be. In the music classroom creativity is built through improvisation, students are given a set of parameters and they construct new music on the spot. Robert Root-Bernstein, a biochemist conducted a study of 150 biographies of eminent scientists. His research of the minds of inventive people showed that creativity can be encouraged and enhanced through the exercise of the right side of our brains. He found that nearly all of the great inventors and scientists were also musicians, artists, writers or poets. Albert Einstein was passionate student of the violin. Music students learn perseverance, the steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Psychologist A. Duckworth studied people in various challenging situations and she found that one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success and it was grit. Through the process of making music students learn those mistakes are opportunities for personal growth. Former U.S. President Gerald Ford illustrates the value of music educators best in stating, “Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music."