Music Education Equals Smarter KidsLearning music is about so much more than music
Why removing music education from the core curriculum is hurting our child’s education
and what we should do about it
Learning Music Makes Smarter Kids
There is an over-abundance of evidence that studying music and learning to play a musical instrument makes children smarter and more successful in their other studies. Children with musical training have higher test scores in elementary school and better SAT scores. It develops spacial and reasoning skills, improves the ability to understand mathematical concepts and improves language skills.
Learning music teaches kids about teamwork and group efforts, helps them understand the nuances of human communication and reading people’s emotions, and, of course, gives them a greater appreciation for, understanding of, and enjoyment from music and the arts. Our educational system did our children a great disservice by declaring music education non-essential and removing it from core curriculum. Eliminating music in order to focus on the more “important” skills like math and reading was short sighted and ignored the clear evidence that learning music makes children better at reading and math, not worse.
Taking music education out of the schools was ignorant, and just plain wrong, and hurts disadvantaged kids the most. There should have been, and should continue to be a huge public outcry, but unfortunately most parents simply don’t know what their child is losing. They may understandably not wish for their child to grow up to be a professional musician, but kids are losing much more than the enjoyment of playing music, which, by the way, has also been shown to improve both physical and mental health.
It is also important for kids to learn how music is made, to try making music, to learn about the infinite ways that music and creative inspiration come to us, and to learn about music’s significance and connections to important events and time periods of our history.
You can’t just leave it up to kids to decide if they want to learn music or not. They don’t have the capacity to understand the ramifications of this. And they haven’t learned the importance and value of sustained discipline and effort and delayed gratification. If you let children decide if they want to learn music or not, even those with an initially enthusiastic response will quickly lose interest once they realize they have to work at it and practice every day for literally years before they get really good at it. Just like anything else.
How many kids would voluntarily continue to learn math throughout school if given the choice? We have to be the wise ones who know that these are essential skills that must be learned and practiced daily.
Learning music helps kids learn self-discipline, the value of persistence, and what they can achieve by applying themselves consistently over an extended period of time.
All parents who want their kids to get a good education, should want them to study music as part of the regular curriculum and should encourage its use as a learning tool for other subjects. How did you memorize the alphabet? And as adults, when searching or putting something in alphabetic order, is there a certain little tune you call up to help you remember. So you used music as a learning tool and chances are you still use that tool throughout your life. That’s just one example of music’s value as a learning tool. But, actually learning music gives students many valuable tools and increases their brain’s comprehension of life and their chances for success.
Parents who can afford it have the option to give their child this advantage anyway, but most don’t realize all the values and benefits music education offers. Parents who can’t afford to supplement their child’s education this way also probably don’t know what they’re missing. But, we as a society have agreed that education is important for all children and should be considered a top priority. Why do we knowingly eliminate something so essential to a good education? Sadly it is our own ignorance that is behind the apathy that has allowed this to happen.
Parents should be lobbying their schools and their Congress to put music education back into the school system, and should insist that their children get a music education. Don’t just let them try it for a year to see if they like it because it’s still all about discipline and daily effort for the first few years. Did you know that children who commit to studying and practicing music for a number of years are 400% better at the end of the first year than students who practiced the same amount of time each day after committing to studying for a year and then deciding if they wanted to go on. 400% better! Our attitude toward learning is a huge influence on what and how much we learn.
Unless you are of the belief that children know more about what they need to learn than you do, you don’t let them study what they want and ignore the rest. Music shouldn’t be an elective. If fully deserves the respect of being treated as the valuable tool and essential set of skills that it is and included in a basic education.
So how do we educate parents and teachers so that they understand this and prioritize it appropriately?
We need to help them understand the basic facts that music contributes to thinking skills and mental comprehension that shows up in tangible cognitive measures. That studying music leads to detectable gains in certain spatial and mathematical capacities, and to early-age measures of intelligence. Simply put, music education makes smarter kids