Plato, Aristotle, Boethius, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, René Descartes, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Stephen Hawkin — What do all of these great men have in common? They were all were musicians. Coincidence? Certainly not. Years of scientific studies are proving what many of us have known all along: Music education makes smarter, more successful students that grow up to be more productive adults.
“Several studies by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which is based at Brown University, explored the effects of art and music education on young children’s learning. The conclusions of these studies support the theory that music instruction can help build intellectual and emotional skills, facilitate children’s learning and strengthen other academic areas, such as reading and math. Also, these studies indicate that music can positively affect children and adults of all ages.
“The conclusions of these Brown University studies are consistent with other research on music and its effect on child development. One study (by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the University of California) shows that when three and four-year-old children were given simple piano lessons over a six-month period, they performed 34% better than other children in IQ tests, some of whom had had computer lessons instead. These impressive results came from a study of 789 children from diverse social and economic backgrounds.
“In an interview, one of the researchers from the University of California said: “Music training jump starts certain inherent patterns in parts of the brain responsible for spatial-temporal reasoning.” Computer lessons, on the other hand, do not force children to think ahead or visualize, as they must when playing a piece of music.
“Several studies indicate that the reading level of students with one year of music was nearly one grade higher than their peers without such music training. Children with two years of music experience had scores equivalent to two years ahead of their reading age, and these statistics improved with music experience.”
(“The Benefits of Music on Child Development” http://www.paulborgese.com/report_benefitofmusic.html)
Here are some of the studies supporting the incredible benefits of music:
Spatial-Temporal IQ — Researchers found that children given piano lessons improved much more dramatically in their spatial-temporal IQ scores (important for some types of mathematical reasoning) than children who received computer lessons or no lessons.
Higher SAT Scores — Students with experience in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT than students with no music education: 53 points higher on the verbal and 39 points higher on the math for music performance; 61 points higher on the verbal and 42 points higher on the math for music appreciation.”
Highest Grades — Data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 showed that music participants received more academic honors and awards than non-music students, and that the percentage of music participants receiving As, As/Bs, and Bs was higher than the percentage of non- participants receiving those grades. NELS:88 First Follow-up, 1990, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington DC
Higher Test Scores — A ten-year study indicates that students who study music achieve higher test scores, regardless of socioeconomic background. – Dr. James Catterall, UCLA.
Higher Reading Scores — In a Scottish study, one group of elementary students received musical training, while another other group received an equal amount of discussion skills training. After six (6) months, the students in the music group achieved a significant increase in reading test scores, while the reading test scores of the discussion skills group did not change. – Sheila Douglas and Peter Willatts, Journal of Research in Reading, 1994.
Better Behavior — In a 2000 survey, 73 percent of respondents agree that teens who play an instrument are less likely to have discipline problems. – Americans Love Making Music – And Value Music Education More Highly Than Ever, American Music Conference, 2000.
Lowest Crime — Secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs). Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report. Reported in Houston Chronicle, January 1998
Better Organized — Students who are rhythmically skilled also tend to better plan, sequence, and coordinate actions in their daily lives. – “Cassily Column,” TCAMS Professional Resource Center, 2000.
Problem Solvers — Students who can perform complex rhythms can also make faster and more precise corrections in many academic and physical situations, according to the Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills. – Rhythm seen as key to music’s evolutionary role in human intellectual development, Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills, 2000.
Less Anxiety — Music students demonstrate less test anxiety and performance anxiety than students who do not study music. – “College-Age Musicians Emotionally Healthier than Non-Musician Counterparts,” Houston Chronicle, 1998.
Most Medical Students — Physician and biologist Lewis Thomas studied the undergraduate majors of medical school applicants. He found that 66% of music majors who applied to medical school were admitted, the highest percentage of any group. 44% of biochemistry majors were admitted. As reported in “The Case for Music in the Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan, February 1994
“Music making makes the elderly healthier…. There were significant decreases in anxiety, depression, and loneliness following keyboard lessons. These are factors that are critical in coping with stress, stimulating the immune system, and in improved health. Results also show significant increases in human growth hormones following the same group keyboard lessons. (Human growth hormone is implicated in aches and pains.)” Dr. Frederick Tims, reported in AMC Music News, June 2, 1999
Exercises Brain — Scientists have found that music involves the left, right, front, and back portions of the brain. –Donald Hodges, “Neuromusical Research.” Handbook of Music Psychology (San Antonio: IMR Press, 1996).
Boosts Productivity — Music can boost productivity in the workplace. Businesses like AT&T, DuPont, and Equitable Life Insurance have cut training time in half, increased output, and raised efficiency with creative music programs. -Business Music: A Performance Tool for the Office/Workplace (Seattle: Muzak, 1991).
Lowers Temperature, Blood Pressure, etc — Music can affect body temperature because of its influence on blood circulation, pulse rate, breathing, and sweating. Transcendent music and loud music can raise our body heat a few degrees, while soft music with a weak beat can lower it. – Don Campbell, The Mozart Effect (New York: Avon Books, 1997), 70-71.
Prevents Disease — Researchers at Michigan State University concluded that listening to one’s “preferred” music may elicit a profound positive emotional experience that can trigger the release of hormones which can contribute to a lessening of those factors which enhance the disease process. – Dale Bartlett, Donald Kaufman, and Roger Smeltekop, “The Effects of Music Listening and Perceived Sensory Experiences on the Immune System as Measured by lnterleukin-1 and Cortisol,” Journal of Music Therapy 30 (1993): 194-209.
Calming — The city of Edmonton, Canada, pipes in Mozart string quartets in the city squares to calm pedestrian traffic, and, as a result, drug dealings have lessened. – “Music-Let’s Split,” Newsweek, 1990.
Relieves Pain — Doctors in the coronary care unit of Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore report that a half an hour of listening to classical music produced the same effect as ten milligrams of Valium. – Sheila Ostrander & Lynn Schroeder with Nancy Ostrander, Superlearning 2000 (New York: Delacorte Press, 1994), 76.
Reduces Migraines — Music can help migraine sufferers reduce the intensity, frequency, and duration of the headaches. – Paul Chance, “Music Hath Charms to Soothe a Throbbing Head,” Psychology Today, February 1987, p. 14.
Heals, Restructures — In recovery wards and rehabilitation clinics, music is widely used to restructure and “repattern” repetitive movements following accidents and illness. – Don Campbell, The Mozart Effect (New York: Avon Books, 1997), 69.
Helps Alzheimers Patients — Music therapists working with Alzheimer’s patients have found that rhythmic interaction or listening to music has resulted in decreased agitation, increased focus and concentration, enhanced ability to respond verbally and behaviorally, elimination of demented speech, improved ability to respond to questions, and better social interaction. – Carol Prickett and Randall Moore, “The Use of Music to Aid Memory of Alzheimer’s Patients,” Journal of Music Therapy 28 (1991).
Helps Stroke Patients — Researchers in Colorado found that stroke patients who were given rhythmic auditory stimulation a half hour a day for three weeks had improved cadence, stride, and foot placement compared with a control group. -Marwick, “Leaving Concert Hall for Clinic.” In The Mozart Effect by Don Campbell. (New York: Avon Books, 1997), 273.
Stroke Victims — In a French study, the use of melodies was shown to stimulate speech recovery in stroke victims. – Neurology, December, 1996.
Lessens Depression, Loneliness — In a 1998 study, retirees who participated in group keyboard lessons reported decreased anxiety, decreased depression, and decreased loneliness when compared to a control group. – Scientific Study Indicates That Making Music Makes the Elderly Healthier, American Music Conference, 1998.
Live Longer — People who participate in the arts live longer than others, according to a Swedish study. – British Medical Journal, 1996.