Music Education Hits All the Right Notes
When children first enter any sort of formal educational setting they are met with songs, music, and rhyme, and that’s no accident: preschool and kindergarten teachers are well versed in just how important it is to expose students to regular rhythmic language play and prioritize the development of a sense of beat and timing.
These skills can help develop musical talent but perhaps even more importantly, they help to support a wide range of other essential skills and contribute to students excelling in other subject areas such as:
- Language Arts and Foreign Languages
- Self Esteem
- Fine Motor Control
- Emotional Intelligence
But somewhere along the line as students progress through the grades the emphasis on music is lost and as formal music education classes decline our students are paying the price. The California Music Project found a 50% decline in music education programs, the largest of any academic subject in the state.
Learning how to play an instrument, sing and understand musicality for the sake of making beautiful music alone is a worthwhile and life-enhancing activity but it can also result in better grades, higher IQ’s and greater creativity as stated by the Canadian Royal Conservatory of Music in their overview of current neuroscience research in favour of the benefits of music education, including greater attainment in these areas:
Foreign Languages: Investing in musical education helps students in developing listening skills and an ear for the subtle changes in languages.
Math: Students who are immersed in music also are able to recognize patterns which can help with math skills, reasoning, puzzles and beat and timing work relies on a sense of numeracy.
Self Esteem: Performing for an audience can be nerve-wracking but it’s an experience unparalleled in its ability to encourage students to practice, improve and then take pride in their work, receiving praise and in the process an often much-needed ego boost.
Fine Motor Control: Students who play musical instruments develop excellent and precise fine motor control which can help with correct pencil control and aid in the correct use of a range of tools.
Emotional Intelligence: Children who practice, play and enjoy music tend to understand emotions and can empathize with others.
This could be due to the emotive nature of music alone or that learning how to make music uses the same parts of the brain as those that are developed by language and emotional intelligence.
Albert Einstein even directly credited his musical education in helping him to develop theories that changed the world:
“The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception.”
When school boards face budget cuts they trim off any excess, administrators are in a difficult position there is only so much money in the pot and the arts can seem like a luxury. But Music education can be the lifeblood of a school, not only benefiting individual students in the ways mentioned but by bringing a school together, creating a sense of community through choirs, bands, and orchestras and developing pride in performance.
Music education hits all the right notes when it comes to creating a learning environment that nurtures creativity, perseverance, excellence and pride, which along with the core subjects provides what all, students deserve, a truly broad and balanced curriculum.