Science Says: Playing music makes you smarter and improves grades!
A scientific study on the effects of studying music was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology “In public education systems in North America, arts courses, including music courses, are commonly underfunded in comparison with what are often referred to as academic courses, including math, science and English,” said Peter Gouzouasis, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, an author of the study of more than 100,000 Canadian students. “It is believed that students who spend school time in music classes, rather than in further developing their skills in math, science and English classes, will underperform in those disciplines. Our research suggests that, in fact, the more they study music, the better they do in those subjects.” “Students who participated in music, who had higher achievement in music, and who were highly engaged in music had higher exam scores across all subjects, while these associations were more pronounced for those who took instrumental music rather than vocal music,” he said. “On average, the children who learned to play a musical instrument for many years, and were now playing in high school band and orchestra, were the equivalent of about one academic year ahead of their peers with regard to their English, mathematics and science skills, as measured by their exam grades.” “Learning to play a musical instrument and playing in an ensemble is very demanding. A student has to learn to read music notation, develop eye-hand-mind coordination, develop keen listening skills, develop team skills for playing in an ensemble and develop discipline to practice. All those learning experiences play a role in enhancing children's cognitive capacities and their self-efficacy,” he said. “We think that the effects we see are partly a result of the fact that children engaging in school music over many years mostly receive quality music instruction and need to master the high expectations of performing at a high school band or orchestra level. In fact, it is that high levels of music engagement for which we saw the strongest effects.” “Often, resources for music education — including the hiring of trained, specialized music educators, and band and orchestral instruments — are cut or not available in elementary and secondary schools. The argument has frequently been that we need all our money to focus on math, science and English,” said Gouzouasis. “The irony is that music education — multiple years of high-quality instrumental learning and playing in a band or orchestra or singing in a choir at an advanced level – may be the very thing that improves all-around academic achievement and an ideal way to have students learn more holistically in schools."
The research was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology®. Peter Gouzouasis, PhD