The Importance of Music and Art

The Importance of Music and Art

For Student Advanced Learning Opportunities

A large majority of families wouldn’t dream of considering a child’s education complete without courses in music and art.

In addition to the obvious cultural aspect of music appreciation, research shows there are other advantages. A number of studies link music lessons to different facets of learning. One particular study, for instance, found preschoolers demonstrated a large boost in their spatial reasoning IQ after eight months of keyboard lessons. And many experts simply state that children who are encouraged to explore art are more likely to do well in math. In addition, art develops hand-eye coordination, teaches responsibility by requiring them to take care of their tools, and develops imagination.

Emotionally speaking, art and music allows children to express themselves and develop confidence, but it also requires both left and right brain thinking. If you want concrete proof of intelligence benefits you don’t have to look far. Some research goes so far as to suggest music lessons are superior to computer training when preparing youngsters for scientific learning. The findings were the result of a two year experiment with preschoolers. The preschoolers who received piano/keyboard training performed 34% higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than the others. And the effects of music lessons go beyond the immediate. College-bound seniors who had school music experience scored 52 points higher on the verbal portion of their SAT’s and 37 points higher in math (89 points combined) than those without arts instruction.

The U.S. Department of Education lists the arts as subjects that college bound middle and junior high school students should take, stating, “Many colleges view participation in arts and music as a valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them. It is also well known and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to children’s intellectual development.” In addition, one year of Visual and Performing Arts is recommended for college-bound high school students. And, since most colleges look at SAT scores when evaluating an application, consider the study that found students who study music scored higher on both the verbal and math portions of the SAT than non-music students. (College Entrance Examination Board as reported in Symphony)

Think a future in medicine awaits your budding scientist? A trip to the music store is in order. In a study of medical school applicants, 66% of music majors who applied to medical school were admitted, the highest percentage of any group! Only 44% of biochemistry majors were admitted.

Even if your children do not take lessons, simply exposing them to music can have an impact. According to research presented at the 102nd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, music lessons and even simply listening to music can enhance spatial reasoning and performance. Spatial reasoning abilities are used in higher brain functions such as music, complex math, and engineering functions.

Unfortunately, with the recent budget cuts, schools have had to cut back on these programs that families recognize as very important for their children. Knowing that recent research supports that high school students involved in music education programs score higher on standardized tests, and that even younger students who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons, parents are doing what they can to fill the void. They’re taking their kids to after-school music and art programs. And, they’re having to pay for them too.