As politicians and pundits continue to call for school reform, one rarely hears calls for increasing music education. This is troubling, as there is strong evidence, which I have witnessed first-hand, that music education improves academic performance and behavior.
Just last year, University of Kansas researchers studied music education’s impact on students in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. The results are nothing less than remarkable as students from all backgrounds benefit both academically and behaviorally. In fact, more music education resulted in:
- Increased school attendance;
- Decreased discipline reports;
- Increased grade point average;
- Dramatically increased graduation rates (60% for students with no music education; 81% for students with as little as 1 year of music education; and 91% for students with more than 1 year of music education); and
- Higher ACT English and Math scores.
These improvements were found across race and ethnicity.
These dramatic improvements are because music participation increases school engagement which results in increased academic achievement and decreased discipline problems. Researchers further found that music education provides a positive impact in many ways including:
- Improved positive identity;
- Improved habits of mind including: self-discipline, concentration, persistence, and leadership;
- Skills transfer from music to other academic subjects including mathematics, literature, and foreign language;
- Improved motivation leading to positive self-behaviors and to persist toward the learning goals and expectations;
- Positive impact on mood; and
- Improved outlook towards students’ own future.
Despite these dramatic results, schools struggle to fund their music education programs, and parent groups are called upon to raise funds for instruments and lessons. Fortunately, at my son’s school, the East High Band Parents Group, which I currently lead, understands the important impact of music education and it has funded music lessons and scholarships. Recently, the band director informed us that the East High band did not own a key piece of timpani, which was meant to be played in 25% of the music performed by the band. This led us to authorize the purchase of this beautiful timpani since the school district did not have the over $2,000 purchase price.
Here is our wonderful band director, Mark Saltzman, showing off East High’s new timpani.
We look forward to hearing the East High band playing this beautiful instrument to complement the rest of the fine young musicians at its upcoming concert on November 19th.
For more information on how I can help you accomplish progressive, effective systems change, contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his web site: Systems Change Consulting.