Music: A Basic, Not an Extra
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?
should find everything you need at this website:
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.
the National Association for Music Education, www.menc.org