3 Benefits of Music Education

Music education is a powerful way to develop students’ appreciation of music. But music education can also enhance children’s skills and abilities outside of music. The following benefits of music education illustrate some of the ways children are impacted.

1. Improved Test Scores

“Study after study proves that regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students do better in school than those who have no music involvement,” says SpreadMusicNow, an organization devoted to supporting nonprofit or school-based music education programs. Research compiled by the organization shows an increase in academic performance for students at multiple educational levels.

  • Skill tests performed on 5,154 fifth-graders found that kids who were learning to play an instrument received higher marks than classmates who were not. Children who were learning longer had higher scores.
  • A 10-year study of more than 25,000 students found that regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students received higher marks on standardized tests than those who were not involved in music.
  • Students in music programs scored 63 points higher on the verbal and 44 points higher on the math sections of the SAT than students who were not involved in music, according to the College Entrance Examination Board.

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2. Enhanced Cognitive Skills

Music education can help students develop spatial intelligence, Laura Lewis Brown says in an article from PBS. Spatial intelligence refers to the ability to visualize elements that go together. Students use this to solve math, art, engineering and computer problems.

In addition to developing abilities like spatial intelligence, music education can impact the way that the brain works. “There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training,” said Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Preparatory. “When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain.”

Studies show that students who received music instruction had improved sound discrimination and fine motor tasks, Brown reports. Brain imaging showed changes to the networks in the brain related to those abilities.

3. Better Societal and Psychological Outcomes

The benefits of music education extend to a number of other outcomes, according to research compiled by SpreadMusicNow.

One study found that students in the arts were more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident and better able to express their ideas. Several national studies report that students at risk of dropping out of school cite participation in the arts as their reason for staying. Finally, the U.S. House of Representatives reported that students who participate in school band or orchestra have the lowest levels of current and lifelong use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs among any group in society.

For those who are interested in helping children benefit from music education, degrees such as the online Master of Music in Music Education are available.