Our ability to make music is a skill that makes us uniquely human. There are some researchers who suggest music is a by-product of language development, and that music plays a vital role in the development and function of the brain. Other researchers say music came before the development of language, and that language is another form of musical expression. Regardless of the point of view, music and other forms of creative activity have played a strong evolutionary role in the development of language, cognitive, and social skills.
Unfortunately, when public schools across the country slash their budgets, one of the first programs that get cut are the music programs. Some people view music education as a fun but unimportant pursuit that takes time away from more important subjects like math, science, history, and language arts. What they may not realize is that music education can help a child excel in these subjects and in other areas of life.
Neuroscience researchers have found that the brain of a musician works harder than the brain of a non-musician. This is because the musician must use more of their brain to play an instrument. Children who are given just a few weeks of music instruction show better-developed sound discrimination and fine motor skills than children who do not receive any musical instruction.
One of the skills that are needed for success in math and science is spatial-temporal intelligence, and research has shown that there is a link between music and the development of spatial-temporal intelligence. Spatial-temporal intelligence is the ability to see patterns in multistep problems that are common in both math and science. Over time, researchers have found that students who have had music instruction tend to have better spatial-temporal intelligence than students who have not had music instruction.
Standardized testing has become the norm in public schools across the country. A quality music education program plays a strong role in determining how successful students can be on a standardized test. Learning how to play music involves developing concentration and memory recall, both of which are necessary for a good outcome on standardized tests. Research has shown that elementary schools who provide a rigorous music program have students who score around 20 percentage points higher on standardized tests than schools who do not offer a music education program.
There are a lot of benefits to having musical abilities, and researchers are still exploring how music affects learning and other non-music tasks. Discipline, learning a new skill, memory recall, performing in front of an audience are all areas that a child can benefit from participating in a good music program. If a school doesn’t have a music program, then parents can go to any number of private music studios like Kenmore Piano Studio, where students can receive music training and gain the benefits of what a music education can provide.