Do children in the 21st century have enough exposure to music education? Surely, this is a question that we do not ask ourselves enough as a global community.
It is perhaps understandable why not, as we have become conditioned to worry about child obesity and
overall academic performance rather than how our children interact with ‘the arts.’
As a result, our children’s education centers on math, science, and literacy; how much physical education they get often depends on where they go to school.
Music has a terrible habit of falling by the wayside, whether due to not being taught at all or by having too little time dedicated to it.
Our Biggest Mistake
Are educational institutions making a huge blunder by making music a low priority?
We are not disputing that the more ‘academic’ subjects are important, and physical education is clearly vital for ingraining good habits and
promoting a lifetime of exercise and rude health.
The problem is that the reason we discard music is to dedicate more time in these areas and improve performance,
yet numerous studies and research papers have shown through the years that music education actually helps to improve performance both in the traditional academic areas and physically.
Imagine that scenario; by not studying music to give time to other subjects, schools are actually lessening the chances of a child being successful in that area.
We are not about to start accusing educational authorities in around the world of neglect, but perhaps it is time to revisit attitudes to music.
Of course, parents can enroll their children in music lessons or find a tutor themselves, but this might be beyond the financial means of many.
Promoting music at school means that every child will have a chance at discovering if they have a talent.
How Children Benefit
These are just a few of the ways children benefit from music education:
Music influences brain development from an early age,
making the parts of the brain associated with learning more receptive, helping children to learn quicker.
Research has also shown that musical exposure can increase ability to deal with complex math equations, particularly algebra, from an earlier age.
The at times complex nature of music means children learn to be more thorough and detailed from an early age, helping them to become better rounded as people as well as academically.
Confidence is a huge benefit derived from music, and one that again can have an impact across all areas of life.
Children who play in bands or orchestras will show better cooperation and teamwork skills, as well as having a greater capability to build relationships.
Finding the Truth in Numbers
In a United States poll conducted by Gallup, 85% of people asked said they agreed with the principle that music had benefits in terms of grade scores as well as other areas of personal development.
What is truly remarkable about this result is that those asked were specific individuals who had no knowledge of any prior research or findings into the issue.
Conventional wisdom stacking up and agreeing with the science is not something that happens every day.
In fact, most of the time, the scientific numbers tend to hugely contradict what the population believes.
If you think the 85% number is an impressive one, check out these results from the very same survey.
Again, respondents had to say if they agree with a particular statement.
By any means of interpretation, those are impressive statistics. When else have you seen a chart where an 82% positive was the lowest outcome?
What would be interesting to discover would be the reasoning behind the 18% who did not agree with the statement.
We would happily wager a lot of money that the majority of them held a point of view that said as children develop they would take ownership themselves and be self-driven when it comes to music.
After all, music and the arts in general, in terms of child uptake, work very much in the same way as physical education.
If it is something you pick up and have as part of your life from a young age, you are more likely to be self-driven and have a desire to continue it as a hobby or even pursue it as a career in later life.
Another telling statistic is the 96% who agree that music is a great vehicle for meeting people;
being able to develop relationships and interact with people is as important as academic performance through childhood.
What do the numbers show us in terms of academic performance? We have used a selection of SAT scores from a number of schools across the United States.
Music students, on average, achieved between 4-8% increases in SAT scores
An increase of 4-8% may not seem a huge number, but if it was the difference between being accepted into a particular course or University, the importance of music would quickly grow.
These results considered those who had taken up music at an early age and were still music students at the time the results were taken.
Music students are, on average, 52% more likely to go onto higher education than those who are not.
It will be no surprise, then, to learn also that music majors are consistently among those with the highest rates of admission into medical and law schools.
That number increases depending on where you look, too.
In some areas of New York, for example, there are schools that see 90% of music students move onto higher education, which is by far the largest number from a particular student demographic.
Look to the Workplace
For a final consideration of the power of music, we need to look at some of the world’s biggest companies.
While many CEO’s and other executives are well known success stories because they did not attend higher education or even left school before the leaving age, over 90% of them have something in common.
You guessed it; 90% of Fortune 500 CEO’s and executives asked,
as well as high-ranking politicians, report that they interacted with music from an early age, commenting that it was a great early tool for developing leadership, as well as other relevant skills.
The Power of Music
The impact music can have on children is as clear as night and day.
Certainly, we are right to want our children to have every chance to become the best people and achieve the best academic results as possible.
Get involved with your child’s school and ask about the music teaching that happens in the school; could you be in a position to influence attitudes to music or change opinions?
Outside of this, you can always introduce music to your child at home, whether that is by enrolling them into lessons or by simply buying an instrument for them to experiment and play around with.
Proof is everywhere when it comes to pointing to the benefits of music education. Children everywhere deserve the opportunity to enjoy them.
License: Image author owned
License: Image author owned
License: Image author owned
Robert is a passionate musician who was hooked after having a guitar lesson from an early age.
Robert also talks to parents about the benefits of music education, and plans to ensure all of his own children are involved with music from an early age.