Why Take Music?
Convincing research and data on the benefits of a music education are boundless. The singular and most basic message cultivated from these findings is that music programs in the schools help our students and communities in real and substantial ways. Below includes some of the more compelling reasons to the question, “Why Take Music?”
1. The U.S. Department of Education lists the arts as subjects that college-bound middle and junior high school students should take, stating, “Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as a valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them. It is also well known and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to children’s intellectual development.”
2. The College Board (administrator of the SAT exam) identifies the arts (including music) as one of the 6 basic academic subject areas students should study in order to succeed in college.
3. According to The College Board in 2006, 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 and 43 points higher on the math than did students with no music participation.
4. A separate study concluded in 2000 of more than 10 million high school students found that:
- Students who take arts classes (including music) have higher math, verbal, and composite SAT scores than students who do not take arts classes.
- As the number of arts classes increases, so do SAT scores.
- 4 or more years of arts classes correspond to the strongest relationship with higher SAT scores.
- Music history, theory, and appreciation have the strongest relationship with higher math SAT scores.
5. Students in “top quality” instrumental music programs at school score on average 22% better in English and 20% better in Math on standardized tests (such as STAR) than students not enrolled in music classes. This statistic is true for both low-performing schools and very high-performing schools (according to a study conducted by the University of Kansas in 2007).
6. Physician and biologist Lewis Thomas studied the undergraduate majors of medical school applicants. He found that 66% of music majors who applied to medical school were admitted, the highest percentage of any group. 44% of biochemistry majors were admitted.
7. In an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data on more than 25,000 secondary school students in 1999, researchers found that students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music (band and orchestra) over the middle school years show “significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12.” Differences in those who are involved with instrumental music vs. those who are not is more significant over time.
8. According to Grant Venerable, author of “The Paradox of the Silicon Savior,” the “very best engineers and technical designers in the Silicon Valley are, nearly without exception, practicing musicians.”
9. In an 11-year study (1987-1998) on the effects of involvement in youth organizations (arts, athletics, or community-based), compared to the National Educational Longitudinal Sample (a general sampling of students), students involved in arts-based groups (including music) were:
- Over 4 times more likely to participate in community service.
- 8 times more likely to win a community service award.
- Nearly twice as likely to read for pleasure.
- Over 3 times more likely to be elected to a class office in schedule.
- 3 times more likely to win a school attendance award.
- 4 times more likely to participate in a math or science fair.
- Over 4 times more likely to win an award for an essay or poem.
- 2 times more likely to win an academic achievement award.
- 4 times more likely to win schoolwide attention for academic achievement.
For additional resources on the significance of a music education in school, here are several links to useful videos and articles.