The benefits of a music education

The Benefits of a Music Education

Music & Arts Education are crucial in the holistic development of children.  Sadly, this area of education has been seriously neglected in the past few decades.  The Music Academy is ideally positioned to assist under-resourced local schools in implementing the revived focus on provision of music and arts education.

Historically, most school systems have tended to place reduced emphasis on the Arts in education.  Sir Ken Robinson, a leading proponent of Arts in Education notes:

“We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather we get educated out of it. So why is this? …Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects… At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts, everywhere on earth.

However, there is significant evidence emerging that this traditional hierarchy – which has its roots in the historical necessity for education systems to produce workers to meet the needs of industrialism – has severe limitations educationally…”

The benefits of a musical education have been well summarized by the Children’s Music Workshop which operates in the greater Los Angeles area. They propose that:

  1. Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. Brain development continues for many years after birth and recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.
  2. There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced mathematical problems to being able to pack a book-bag with everything that will be needed for the day.
  3. Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions, rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. Questions about the arts do not have only one right answer.
  4. Recent studies show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized test and achieve higher grades in  school.
  5. A study of the arts provides children with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards the people of these cultures. This development of compassion and empathy, as opposed to development of greed and a ‘me first’ attitude, provides a bridge across cultural chasms that leads to respect of other races at an early age.
  6. Students of music learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed to mediocre, work. These standards, when applied to a student’s own work, demand a new level of excellence and require students to stretch their inner resources.
  7. In music, a mistake is a mistake; the instrument is in tune or not, the notes are well played or not, the entrance is made or not. It is only by much hard work that a successful performance is possible. Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and the concrete rewards of hard work.
  8. Music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal, the performance, and must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals, and practicing.
  9. Music provides children with a means of self-expression. When there is relative security in the basics of existence, the challenge is to make life meaningful and to reach for a higher stage of development. Everyone needs to be in touch at some time in his life with his core, with what he is and what he feels. Self-esteem is a by-product of this self-expression.
  10. Music study develops skills that are necessary in the workplace. It focuses on ‘doing’, as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform, literally, anywhere in the world. Employers are looking for multi-dimensional workers with the sort of flexible and supple intellects that music education helps to create as described above. In the music classroom, students can also learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another.
  11. Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks. A little anxiety is a good thing, and something that will occur often in life. Dealing with it early and often makes it less of a problem later. Risk-taking is essential if a child is to fully develop his or her potential.
  12. An arts education exposes children to the incomparable.