Benefits of Music Education - Music for Children, Teens

16th October 2023

“Ba bom bom buuuum”—can Beethoven really help Johnny get better grades? Apparently the answer is a symphonically resounding “Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes!”

  • In an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data on more than 25,000 secondary school students, researchers found that students who report consistently high levels of involvement in instrumental music over middle and high school years show "significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12."

    This observation holds regardless of students' socio-economic status, and differences in those who are involved with instrumental music vs. those who are not is more significant over time. (Catterall, J, Iwanga, J., 1999.)

  • "Education in the arts makes better math and science students, and enhances spatial intelligence in newborns." It also can be part of a "solution" to "teen violence" [if directed in the right way]. - Michael Greene, for Music Education Online
  • Higher SAT Scores

  • Students with coursework/experience in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT: students in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal portion and 41 points higher on math, while students in music appreciation scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math than did students with no arts participation.

    College-bound seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers. Princeton, NJ: The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001 (Music Education Online).

  • Music and Language Skills Development

  • Both music and language are processed in the same area of the brain. Children and youth who develop skills on playing an instrument often times develop greater language capacity as well as greater adeptness in the ability to learn a new language.
  • Music Teachers as Positive Role Models

  • Music teachers can provide good role models for inner-city children. The percentage of high school students, in one study, who viewed music teachers as a role model was higher than for any other discipline: 36% for music teachers, 28% for English teachers, 11% for elementary teachers and 7% for phys-ed/sports teachers (Hamann, 1993).
  • Listen! Music Matters - Seven Surprising Benefits of Music Education

    Article abstract from Abigail Connors, early-childhood music specialist and author of 101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children.

    “Listen to the singing, the laughing, the jumping, stomping and clapping, the exuberant thumping of drugs, the rhythmic rattling of maracas, and the festive jingling of bells. Listen to children making music, and it's easy to hear they're having fun." She continues, "What's not so obvious is that while children are singing and clapping, jumping and wiggling, and shaking and tapping on instruments, there's a whole lot of learning—and growing—going on.”

    Music activities boost brainpower. Numerous studies have shown that participating in musical activities can increase children's success in school, I.Q. scores, and cognitive skills such as "reasoning and memory." "Playing music," she notes, can promote "healthy brain development." To teach a child to play the piano, violin, or other beautiful instrument, is of value!

    How Adolescents and Children Can Benefit from Music Education

    Music for Children and Teens: Expose Children and Teens
    to a Variety of Musical Forms

    Teenagers and children benefit from music education when they are exposed to a wide variety of musical forms. Most teenagers and children have exposure only to music that is currently popular on the radio, or music from recent previous generations such as from the rock era onward. Very few have any concept of other forms of music.

    Music teachers, educators and school administrators, parents, and mentors who educate children and teens by exposing them to diverse forms of music help break the myopic mold that the commercializing of popular music locks young people in.

    Wholesome music espousing positive values is of more benefit to children and teens than music that promotes a distorted and commercialized view of sexuality, gross profanity, and lewdness that is designed to shock. From the room of one music teacher in a grade and middle school in North Newark, NJ, at any time during the day could be heard the strains of not only occasional pop music, but also classical, folk, and a wide range of cultural music. How enriching for the music education of his students! It is something they will no doubt carry with them for the rest of their lives.

    One English teacher softly plays calming classical music while students work on their written assignments. Walking into her room elicits a feeling of peace and well-being.

    In one grade and middle school in the South ward of Newark, children are enrolled in a violin program sponsored by the NJ Symphony, who donates violins for the students’ use. A talent show in Barringer High School, March 2015, where there is a predominant Hispanic population, featured students playing non-lyrical acoustic guitar with improvisation along the lines of soft Hispanic jazz.

    Rather than music educators succumbing to the flow of the times, embracing music that in fact has a detrimental effect on teenagers and children, how much better to guide them through more positive and proactive channels of music education?

    Positive Music Education for Children and Teens — by learning to play a musical instrument.

    Anyone can turn on the radio of flip on the TV, but a child or teenager who learns to play a musical instrument has learned a skill that will last his or her entire lifetime. Learning a musical instrument improves intelligence, ability to concentrate, and language skills; the area of the brain that processes music is the same area that processes language. Learning to play a musical instrument well builds self-respect and heightens self-esteem. Teenagers with a healthy measure of self-esteem are less likely to succumb to negative peer pressure and follow the crowd. As the saying goes in schools, "be a leader not a follower." Teenagers who respect themselves, with some developed skills that provide evidence of their worth, are more likely to choose a positive course in life, and avoid the pitfalls of self-destructive behavior and habits in that many teenagers succumb.

    For novices or professional musicians or serious music students: How much time should you practice each day?

    A beginner can practice a half-hour a day and make progress. Most who are new or novices to a musical instrument benefit from 45 minutes to an hour or more a day of practice, in addition to some time for study. Pre-teen students in a Paterson, NJ, violin program learned to play the violin in just three months playing simple songs (way beyond nursery rhyme level), and delighted in showing off their newly developed talent. They practiced in music class daily for 30 minutes, and at home 30 minutes a day.

    For serious music students or professionals, teacher and parent Robert H. Woody, Ph.D., a music professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and author of the book Psychology for Musicians recommends about two hours per day as an optimal amount of practice, with about four hours in a single day max. "These figures are based on a landmark study by Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Römer (1993), who reported that the training practices of elite musicians were similar to those of professional athletes and chess masters."

    By choosing to focus on practice "quality over quantity," you can free up time for other music activities away from the instrument, and this will ultimately make practice periods more effective (Woody, R.H., 2013).

    When do young people (and children) listen to music?

    Young people listen on iPods (or smartphones) going to school, between classes, during class, and in the hallways; at home watching or listening to music videos on cable or satellite TV, or on the Internet; on the Internet at school, often with music videos from YouTube; In the car through CDs and the radio.

    Schools, Music, and Teens

    Some schools have adopted a no-iPod or cellphone (or similar devices, such as cellphones with headsets or earphones) policy because they feel that constancy of music between classes, in the halls, and oftentimes, in class, can interfere with the cognitive processes necessary for the powers of mental assimilation required for learning on a higher level.

    It is easy to copy information from a textbook while you are listening to your favorite singer, but it may be much more difficult to learn higher mathematics or compose a report requiring higher levels of reasoning with the music flowing into your brain while you are working.

    In other schools, there are no restrictions on iPod/smartphone use. See article: How teachers, principals, and administrators can help parents and children make the most out of their school years.