Benefits of Music Education

Benefits of Music Education

Paul Allen was 7 years old when he first had a taste of the violin. The notes that sprang up from the strings when the bow caressed it, excited him to an immeasurable extent, so much so that he walked right in, when guitar beckoned.Before he realized it, he was strumming on his six string at the end of marathon days of programming at Microsoft. To make sure that we are on the same page, he is the very Paul Allen who co-founded Microsoft. The music, that he so passionately nurtured in his early days, became the emotional analog to his day job. “Music reinforces your confidence in your ability to create”, was his swift answer.An assortment of Ludovico Einaudi, Ravi Shankar and Tagore in your playlist could spell bliss after a long, hectic day. But the question here is, are the benefits of music restricted to the calmness it descends on the heart and soul? Or, could it be way more than that, as Paul Allen pointed out?

Benefits of music education

I have a friend whose birthday coincides with World Music Day and I have always thought that he has taken this too seriously. On our way to his seventeenth stage show (he likes to keep count), I found out that music was in his blood, it has been a family heritage since a few generations before him. And trust me when I say this, he has the best memory I have ever encountered, even though you might have to excuse his attention span of a goldfish.Without further ado, let’s get on to the benefits that music education has to offer.

Speech and reading ability

It has been found that musically trained children have better phonological skills and therefore, learn to read sooner and develop a rich vocabulary. A 2009 Canadian study revealed that young children taking music lessons showed dramatic improvement in their verbal intelligence scores after four weeks of music training. And by dramatic, I mean a good and healthy 25 percent increase.Playing music improves a child’s ability to listen and pick up nuances in speech i.e. the way something is said and the words involved. Reading ability is hugely impacted by music education. A study published in the journal ‘Psychology of Music’ revealed that music training leads to a higher performance in reading ability.

Benefits to the brain

Music education increases the capacity of key brain regions. The frontal lobes of the brain that perform cognitive functions are larger in musically trained individual than those without the training. A research conducted by the University of Munster, Germany found that the area of the brain used to analyze the musical note is enlarged by 25% in musicians!  If that seems overwhelming to you, try the following facts.Music education:

  • Builds and strengthens connections between brain cells.
  • Engages the left and right brain.
  • Improves memory and the ability to differentiate sounds and speech.
  • Helps develop language and reasoning.

To back up what I claimed, here’s a little incident. United states Congresswoman Gabby Giffords survived a bullet to the brain, but unfortunately, it robbed her off her speech. But she fought back. Watch how music therapy helped her achieve the impossible. She is learning how to speak again!

Benefits in academics

“Can you identify the note?”, my mother’s favourite sentence whenever we walk into a mall playing her kind of music. Over unceremonious fights with her sister to have a go at the harmonium, numerous training sessions and a few stolen moments with her uncle’s sitar (which adorns our living room now), she became a trained classical singer. With her singing skills, her academics soared. She was one of the top students of Presidency College and aced her Masters as well!If that isn’t proof for the benefit I claimed, then what is? For those who aren’t convinced, I come armed with evidence. Dr. Sylvain Moreno conducted a music-based cognitive training program on a few children for a period of 20 days. It revealed a remarkable 90% gain in intelligence among the children. Apart from that, children who take music lessons have greater ability to focus as well.Three amazing facts for you.

  • Students who participate in high-quality music programs score 22 percent better in English and 20 percent better in Math.
  • Schools with music programs have an estimated 17.3 percent higher graduation rate and 9 percent higher attendance rate than schools without.
  • It has been found that students who have undergone a music education score higher SAT scores in both verbal and Math than students who haven’t.

Develops critical thinking, co-ordination and spatial intelligence

Music builds imagination. Try this: next time you scoop up your iPod, instead of just browsing through your playlist and dancing to a tune, close your eyes. Delve deep into the intricacies of every tune you hear. You would find yourself in a beautiful place covered in ivy and the smell of freedom accompanying your escapade. This might differ for each song or, you might get a different feeling altogether, but the bottom line is, imagination.Have you ever watched the face of a cello player when she is churning out heavenly tunes with every stroke? You would be overwhelmed at the magic going on if you could get into her head.A music education can produce the similar effect. Introducing music in the early childhood years can foster a positive attitude toward learning and curiosity. Learning a musical instrument inculcates discipline. A music education allows children to perceive the world accurately and form mental intelligence resulting in a higher spatial intelligence. Studies have shown that young children who take keyboard lessons have greater abstract reasoning abilities which improve over time with sustained training in music. Being a part of a band or an orchestra teaches students how to work together. Apart from that, a good hand-eye-ear co-ordination is developed through music study, thus aiding immensely in sports.

Personal and social development

Take this: if you turn out to be a pro in music, you would be able to detect the disparity in your best friend’s voice the next time he tries to cover up anything. Empathy comes from being sensitive to subtle changes in human voice indicating mood and emotion. Empathy helps us strive in a community, school or work.Participating in musical groups promotes friendship, self-confidence, social skills, responsibility, commitment, mutual support and more along with an outlet for relaxation. As many as 95% of the parents in US believed that participation in a band reaped benefits that a conventional education system did not provide.

A few success stories

If you look carefully, you would find musicians at the top of any industry.

  • Condoleezza Rice, former United States Secretary of State is a trained concert pianist.
  • Steven Spielberg is a clarinetist and son of a pianist.
  • The former World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn has played cello at Carnegie Hall.
  • Larry Page, a co-founder of Google used to play the saxophone in high school.
  • NBC’s Andrea Mitchell trained to become a professional violinist.

This list can go on. Now the question is, will a rigorous music education turn every child into a Paul Allen (guitar) or a Woody Allen (clarinet)? Probably not. But a music education can definitely aid in the process by inculcating valuable skills that could prove beneficial in the long run.Music can be identified with something ethereal. The memories you make while making music lasts a lifetime. Whether you are harmonizing in a choir or, jamming with your friends, music can spin magic!Image Courtesy: zeenews.india.com

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