Science’s Take on Music Education
When the superintendents of struggling school districts start looking into which programs to cut, the arts are inevitably the first to go. And of those cuts, the band is more than likely going to be on the top of the list, considering the costly nature of maintaining instruments and other musical equipment, organizing concerts, and participating in parades.
Sadly, the arts like music are often seen as the least essential elements of a student’s education. However, numerous scientific studies suggest otherwise, indicating that the skills, in general, are tremendously undervalued in today’s education system.
It’s hard to argue with one of the greatest minds the human race has ever seen, Albert Einstein, when he said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” This statement alone underlines the value of music programs to the development of young minds.
An all-too-common problem discussed amongst teachers in the staff room is how to get their students to engage with the lessons being presented to them. Frequently, it takes something creative like music to reach out to a student in a way that resonates with them. Many elementary teachers incorporate some type of music into their lessons, singing or only having the kids pound out rhythms with their hands. While not only being a great way to blow off a little steam and build hand-eye coordination, these small musical breaks can help immensely with those students who like to sit on the sidelines and not get involved. It’s much easier to participate when you know what you’re supposed to be doing and when, and music gives you those cues. It’s also lovely when everyone else around you is doing the same thing.
Songs can also be a handy way to help students retain information. The human brain remembers musical patterns much better than random data, so if critical facts are placed strategically into a melody, it can help with everything from the week’s days to the Periodic Table of Elements.
Music can bring people together. The joy of singing in a choir or playing in an ensemble is something that has to be experienced to be understood. If this practice is fostered at an early age, a student can have a much better chance of growing up into a person who functions well in a community and is excited and eager every day to play their part.