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Curriculum & Instruction        < Previous        Next >

 

Music: A Basic, Not an Extra

 

Q. As I watch budget cuts and the push toward defining educational quality as a number -- standardized test score -- I'm getting worried that music education is going to be killed off in public schools. What are some points to make in letters to school boards and so forth, to protect this important but underappreciated school subject?

 

You should find everything you need at this website:

 

http://www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/benefits.html

 

The benefits of music education are well-documented and ought to be brought out in public discussions of what is essential in providing a well-rounded education.

 

Some of the more intriguing findings backed up by research cited there:

 

-- The link between music education and higher academic achievement holds up over time, even despite wide diversity in socioeconomic status. That's true whether the student is engaged in music performance or music appreciation.

 

-- Several kinds of brain function are enhanced by music training.

 

-- Music education pays off in significantly increased SAT scores.

 

-- High school students in band and orchestra have a significantly lower lifetime and current use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs than their non-music peers.

 

-- Piano keyboard training has been demonstrated to be much better for building cognitive skills for math than hours and hours using math software.

 

-- Engineers and technical designers are often practicing musicians.

 

-- Among all students who apply to medical schools, music majors have the highest rate of admission, 66%, compared to 44% for biochemistry majors.

 

It's easy to see how vocal and instrumental music are brain builders. All these take brain power: keeping the right rhythm, calibrating a tune, blending in melody and harmony, orchestrating the multisensory aspects of correct keyboarding and maintaining vocal pitch, and memorizing song lyrics.

 

Proper music education also has a lot to teach students about history and culture through the ages. The lives of the composers are often inspiring, and the use of music as a tool for nationalization or a reflection of political change is a fascinating topic.

Homework: See the National Association for Music Education, www.menc.org

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.ShowandTellforParents.com Curriculum 07 2008

 

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