Why is Music Important?We all love music! As parents you have probably experienced your child humming or singing a favorite song they've heard, or making up their own songs. Music is part of who we are as humans. Our favorite songs lift our spirits and encourage our hearts. Music can inspire us, soothe us, and move us! Music is creative and collaborative. Research has found that music has a significantly positive impact on intelligence and the development of spatial and abstract reasoning skills. Research suggests that students who have studied music and the arts from an early age do better in school than students who have not been exposed to the arts.The following quotes were taken from the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) website http://www.menc.org/information/advocate/facts.html:
“The musician is constantly adjusting decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling--training the brain to become incredibly good at organizing and conducting numerous activities at once. Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attentional skills, intelligence, and an ability for self-knowledge and expression.” - Ratey John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. New York: Pantheon Books, 2001.
A research team exploring the link between music and intelligence reported that music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning math and science. - Shaw, Rauscher, Levine, Wright, Dennis and Newcomb, "Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's spatial-temporal reasoning," Neurological Research, Vol. 19, February 1997
Researchers found that children given piano lessons significantly improved in their spatial- temporal IQ scores (important for some types of mathematical reasoning) compared to children who received computer lessons, casual singing, or no lessons. - Rauscher, F.H., Shaw, G.L., Levine, L.J., Wright, E.L., Dennis, W.R., and Newcomb, R. (1997) Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's spatial temporal reasoning. Neurological Research, 19, 1-8.
“Studying music encourages self-discipline and diligence, traits that carry over into intellectual pursuits and that lead to effective study and work habits. An association of music and math has, in fact, long been noted. Creating and performing music promotes self-expression and provides self-gratification while giving pleasure to others. In medicine, increasing published reports demonstrate that music has a healing effect on patients. For all these reasons, it deserves strong support in our educational system, along with the other arts, the sciences, and athletics. -” Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Leading Heart Surgeon, Baylor College of Music.
“The nation’s top business executives agree that arts education programs can help repair weaknesses in American education and better prepare workers for the 21st century.” -“The Changing Workplace is Changing Our View of Education.” Business Week, October 1996.
The U.S. Department of Education lists the arts as subjects that college-bound middle and junior high school students should take, stating "Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as a valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them. It is also well known and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to children’s intellectual development." In addition, one year of Visual and Performing Arts is recommended for college-bound high school students. - Getting Ready for College Early: A Handbook for Parents of Students in the Middle and Junior High School Years, U.S. Department of Education, 1997
The College Board identifies the arts as one of the six basic academic subject areas students should study in order to succeed in college.- Academic Preparation for College: What Students Need to Know and Be Able to Do, 1983 [still in use], The College Board, New York
The very best engineers and technical designers in the Silicon Valley industry are, nearly without exception, practicing musicians. - Grant Venerable, "The Paradox of the Silicon Savior," as reported in "The Case for Sequential Music Education in the Core Curriculum of the Public Schools," The Center for the Arts in the Basic Curriculum, New York, 1989
Secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs). - Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report. Reported in Houston Chronicle, January 1998
A Rationale for Music Education
Why should music be included as a basic part of the curriculum?
1. Music is worth knowing.
2. Music is one of the most important manifestations of our cultural heritage. Children need to know about Beethoven and Louis Armstrong as well as about Newton and Einstein.
3. Music is a potential in every individual that, like all potential, should be developed to its fullest.
4. Music provides an outlet for creativity, self-expression, and individual uniqueness. It enables us to express our noblest thoughts and feelings.
5. Music teaches students about unique aspects of their relationships with other human beings and with the world around them, in their own and other cultures.
6. Music opens avenues of success for students who may have problems in other areas of the curriculum and opens approaches to learning that can be applied in other contexts.
7. Studying music increases the satisfaction students derive from music by sharpening sensitivity, raising their level of appreciation, and expanding their musical horizons.
8. Music is one of the most powerful and profound symbol systems that exists. 9.Music helps students learn a significant lesson--that not all aspects of life are quantifiable.
9. Music exalts the human spirit.
-Adapted from The School Music Program: Description and Standards, Music Educators National Conference, 2nd ed., 1987