Posted on 03/05/2011 at 09:02 AM by Global Reach

Northwest AEA Fine Arts Blog

Volume 2 Number 8

Marlin Jeffers, Educational Consultant

Music Web Site of the Month    This is site for Early Childhood Music

Article of the Month

Music Enhances Academic Excellence

By Denie Riggs

Early Childhood Music

Muscle Shoals Music Academy

You have done your best for your child.

·       You have scoured the countryside for all the items on their back-to-school list.

·       You have made sure that their teacher is quality and warm.

·       You have purchased back-to-school clothes and got their hair cut.

·       You have rearranged their schedule to allow for sufficient rest and recreation.

·       You have packed the cupboards with healthy after-school snacks.

·       You may have even placed them in a private school or chosen to home school hoping for more excellence in their studies.

You have taken careful steps to give your child the best. Is there something more that you can do assure their success?

Research studies show that you need to add music training to your child’s life.

Yamaha has a poster that says, "Success in music. Success in life…it’s no coincidence." The qualities involved with studying music: of persistence, coordination and commitment allow your child to mature with healthy personality qualities that will stay with them throughout their life. But research studies are showing more and more conclusively that music study also enhances their grades.

Here are some related documented facts:

·       Musicians achieve a higher grade point average (GPA) than non-musicians in the same school do.

·       Music students achieve higher ACT scores and other college entrance exam scores.

·       In a recent study, 66% of music majors who apply to medical school are accepted, the highest percentage of any group. Only 44% of biochemistry majors are admitted.

·       Findings indicate that music study uniquely enhances higher brain functions required for reading, mathematics, chess, science and engineering.

Music programs have been pulled out of most of our schools as unnecessary spending of tax dollars, and replaced by highly competitive sports. America spends 29 times more dollars than any other nation on education, yet ranks 14th out of 17 countries in academic excellence.  It hasn't helped our students.

Hungary ranks highest in academic excellence, yet is one of the world’s poorest countries. How can that be? Could it be because they have a mandatory music requirement for kindergarten through grade nine? In Hungary, the first four hours of each day are set aside for music, orchestra and choir. In the afternoon, when the students study mathematics, language, and history, they are able to achieve high grades, because their brain has been formatted for orderly storage and retrieval of information by music study.

The three top nations of academic excellence all have mandatory music requirements for their students. And their results speak for themselves.

Let’s look at some research studies:

Music training enhances reading skills.  A study done with 1st grade children shows significantly higher reading scores with children receiving piano/music instruction than did the control group. (Hurwitz, I., Wolff, P.H., Bortnick, B.D. & Kokas, K. 1975)

Music training dramatically enhances children’s abstract reasoning skills necessary for math and science.  A study with 3 and 4 year-olds indicated that children who received piano/keyboard training performed 34% higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than the non-musical group. These findings indicate that music uniquely enhances higher brain functions required for mathematics, chess, science and engineering. (Psychologist Dr. Frances Rauscher of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and physicist Dr. Gordon Shaw of the University of California at Irvine in 1994)

Music training enhances a brain function that dies away.  Studies show that early experiences of childhood determine which brain cells (neurons) will connect with other brain cells, and which ones will die away. Because neural connections are responsible for all types of intelligence, a child’s brain develops to its full potential only with exposure to the necessary music enriching experiences in early childhood. (Music Beats Computers at Enhancing Early Childhood Development, American Music Conference via PR NEWSWIRE: Neurological Research, February 1997)

Music training increases intelligence.  Scores on a puzzle task, designed to measure spatial reasoning ability, increased significantly during the period they (three and four-year-olds) received the music lessons. In a research report, ‘Music Increases Intelligence Report,’ Dr Shaw said the piano was the instrument of choice because its keyboard gave the children both a linear and audible representation of the relationship between sounds. "What this means for parents is that they should consider giving their children piano lessons as early as age three or four," said Shaw. (College of Computing, Georgia Tech, August 24, 1994. UCI Journal, Spring 1997)

Music enhances learning and creativity.  In another research test involving four and five-year olds, the effects of music on learning and creativity was measured. After twenty days of training, the music/dance group showed the greatest improvement in learning about body parts and creativity. (Mohanty, B. & Hejmadi, A. (1992). Effects Of Intervention Training on Some Cognitive Abilities of Preschool Children. Psychological Studies, 37, 31-37.)

Music achieves non-musical positive effects.  It has been shown that children develop faster socially, mentally, and even physically when exposed to music in their early childhood. "Thus, it appears that music studied for good and sufficient reasons for its own sake has beneficial ‘side effects’ on cognition." (Rausher, F.H.,Shaw G.I., Levine, L.J., Ky, K.N. & Wright, E.I. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Society, Los Angeles, CA., August 13, 1994.)

These research results speak for themselves.

Earlier is better for brain enhancement. But even if your child is five years old or older, it is not too late to start. Here are some tips for the musical success of your school-age child.

·       Commit to their success. Learning to play a musical instrument requires determination and patience. Parents should commit to the program for at least six months. Usually by that time, the student has come through the difficult part of music training and enjoys it. If they are permitted to give up when it gets hard, they may never try again, because their attempt was unsuccessful.

·       Establish a routine of daily practice sessions. Schedule practice at the same time of the day, everyday. This allows practice to become as routine as brushing teeth or eating a meal.

·       Give incentives for daily practice. For instance, set up a marble jar. Every time your child passes a song, reward them with a marble. When the student gets a certain number of pre-determined marbles, do something fun or give a prize. Be creative, and fit the incentive to their needs and age.

·       Practicing in the morning is most beneficial because the brain enhancement lasts for several hours immediately following practice. If you are a normal American family where your mornings are rushed, remember that the reward of higher grades is well worth the effort.

·       Keep it fun! We were created to make music. Singing and playing music should be a vital part of everything we do. Share it with your child. Have fun!

Come on kids; let’s make music!



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