3. Linked to Greater Likelihood of Graduation
Study/survey disclosed in a report by Harris Interactive titled Understanding the Linkages Between Music Education and Educational Outcomes (July 2006)
In a survey conducted in 2006, researchers at Harris Interactive found that high schools with a music program had a 90%+ graduation rate of students. If you aren’t familiar with standard graduation rates of high schools throughout America, I can tell you that 90% is considered very good.
Contrastingly, high schools without a music program had a graduation rate of less than 73%.
The study also surveyed whether the principals of each school personally felt the music program was “very” or “extremely” important to the overall life and curricula of the school. Principals who personally felt that music was either very or extremely important to the culture of the institution happened to be employed at schools with higher overall graduation rates than schools where the principal did not feel it was so important.
2. Promotes Motor Task Competency
Study summary published on PBS.org
In a study led by Boston College psychology professor Ellen Winner as well as neurology professor Gottfried Schlaug of Harvard University, children who experienced 15 months of weekly musical instruction showed improved ability in discrimination of disparate sounds as well as in performing motor tasks, which are voluntary movements relating to muscles.
Brain scans of these children also showed remarkable development in neural pathways associated with motor task competency. As music is a fine physical art involving careful detail of muscular precision and performance, these conclusions certainly make a lot of sense.
1. Flourishes Artistic and Personal Expression
Journal of Research In Music Education, titled A Case Study of Teaching Musical Expression to Young Performers (March 2013)
Up to this point, the aforementioned studies so far has demonstrated that music education improves brain performance, muscular movement, reading ability, memory, learning, IQ, emotional outlook, grades, graduation rate, social behavior, and more.
However, this last study demonstrates that teaching music is beneficial for the purpose of achieving, quite simply, musical and artistic expression.
It might seem intuitive enough that a teacher who teaches music to students is also teaching musical expression, but is it really so literal?
A study compiling hundreds of interview transcripts, observed lessons data, and more between teachers and young students shows that musical expressiveness, defined in the reporting paper as “physical flexibility between the body and the instrument in relation to musical structure, emotions and sensations, and the audience,” is actually taught from a teacher to a student over the course of many lessons.
This is significant because it shows that artistic expression, musical or otherwise, has a deeply social component to it – prodigies, for example, are not simply prodigies because they are genetically designed to be superior at music than other people. Rather, it is the combination of a prodigy’s musical capabilities combined with expressiveness taught to him by his teacher has formed him into an exceptionally capable artist.
The results of this study are less tangible in final result than the aforementioned ones, but still are significant because it shows that teaching music ultimately teaches personal expression, as the lessons a teacher provides to a student shapes elements emotional, musical, and physical.
I was at a conference last weekend in New York City called Chamber Music America – the keynote speaker was Jane Chu, the Chairman for the National Endowment of the Arts. Jane Chu is exceptionally passionate not only about helping artists in America thrive, but also on K-12 music education.
With her broad spectrum of knowledge on the subject, she had a very intriguing statistic to relate to all of us at the conference, which is this:
The adulthood participation in music is not influenced most by a family’s affluence and background, but rather, whether the adult played music as a child.
From the compelling preponderance of scientific studies demonstrating the positive effects of music education on our emotional, mental, and expressive beings, we can conclude that teaching music in our schools is not only useful in helping students perform well on test scores, work better with peers, graduate, read, and learn.
But also, it sets the foundation for a higher quality of life into adulthood, adulthood that is more likely to continue participating in this brain-boosting art that has only showed positive, safe results without any side effects in any scientific study.
For aspiring and current music education majors, you are going to enter one of the most noble and value-providing musical vocations in the entire world.
For schools thinking about cutting funding for music programs, don’t.
The education of a child or adolescent isn’t simply benefitted by just one music class; based on compelling scientific research, we can confidently say that only when music itself is completely integrated into the organic being of a person can we call his or her education complete.