Condoleeza Rice. Bill Gates. Taylor Swift. Alan Greenspan. Bill Clinton. Yo-Yo Ma. What do all of these people have in common? They’re musicians!
Learning to play an instrument teaches important life skills – skills like creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, perseverance – that translate into success in all areas of life. At The People’s Music School, we believe ALL kids should have access to these life-changing benefits of music. That’s why we provide free music education for students who couldn’t otherwise afford it.
Here are 7 ways music education opens doors to success for our students and all young musicians:
2. Music improves memorization skills and standardized test scoresA study published in September 2006 in the scientific journal Brain indicates that young children who received a year of musical training showed brain changes and superior memory when compared with children who did not receive the instruction. There are some children who are obviously not gifted in music, however, this is not the end of the world for them, particularly if you want their focus to improve. There are other options besides music such as trying mental focus supplements, this can help their concentration levels if that is something that you would like to try. However, you know that with music your child will enjoy it (even if it’s just them making a lot of noise in the house!), but there are plenty of other options if you want to try an alternative.
Researchers at McMaster University in Canada noted, “The children taking music lessons improved more over the year on general memory skills that are correlated with nonmusical abilities, such as literacy, verbal memory, visuospatial processing, mathematics and IQ, than did the children not taking lessons.”
Students in high-quality school music programs even score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, regardless of the socioeconomic level of the school or school district. Music actually rewires the brain – see brain scan examples for proof!
It takes strong fingers to play the piano, strike a chord on the guitar or achieve correct finger placement on the violin. Teaching tiny fingers to move quickly, be nimble and develop strength early on has long-term benefits. Music enhances the ability to use small, acute muscle movements to write, use a computer, and perform other physical tasks. When’s the last time you thought of music lessons as honing the skills of a future surgeon or craftsman?!
4. Music teaches perseverance and disciplinePerseverance is the drive to continue toward a goal – even when it gets tough. Television broadcaster Paula Zahn said to the NYTimes, “There’s nothing like music to teach you that eventually if you work hard enough, it does get better. You see the results.” A recent study showed that preschoolers involved in music lessons surpassed their peers on measures of perseverance and motivation – qualities we know are traits of high functioning, creative individuals. Our young musicians are future leaders in training!
5. Music fosters active listening skills
TPMS friend and advisor Dr. Nina Kraus, head of Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, studies the impact of music education on a child’s brain. Her findings suggest that everyday listening skills are stronger in musically-trained children than in those without music training – most notably after sustained and rigorous music education. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Young musicians aren’t just learning music – they’re honing the skills that will help them with language and communication throughout their lifetime!
6. Music promotes team work and collaboration
A July 2014 Harris poll found that “Seven in ten Americans (71%) say that the learnings and habits from music education equip people to be better team players in their careers.” Participation in music also boasts social benefits for students, providing the opportunity to make new friends, meet new people and form lasting friendships – opportunities they may not have had without music education. Through music, students learn to listen to one another, improvise and collaborate effectively. Makes you hope your teammates at work on on the field are musicians, doesn’t it?
Teens indicate making music provides the freedom to just be themselves; to be different; to be something they thought they could never be; to be comfortable and relaxed in school and elsewhere in their lives. Music education provides teens, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds, a safe environment to grow and develop essential social-emotional life skills to help them succeed – in school, college, careers and beyond. Music education helps teens achieve to their full potential, which is important for them and invaluable for their communities.