14 Sep Is Music Education Still Important? Prove It!
Ask a musician if music education is important for our children and you’ll invariably get a resounding “YES!” You know it, I know it, my co-founders know it, and most of the people we associate with know it. We have first hand experience – studying music shaped the core of our beings from a young age. We wouldn’t know ourselves without it!
Now as ArtSmart has grown from idea into reality, I’ve found myself explaining the program to just about anyone who will listen. This includes plenty of non-musicians. These well-intentioned folk are school administrators, parents, educators, office workers, even friends and family, and they grew up with limited musical experience. In the process of explaining what exactly ArtSmart does, I often start with how many schools are slashing budgets for Arts programs, and how terrible that is for our children, which makes a great lead-in for what ArtSmart plans to do about it. And most people agree: Arts education is good. But occasionally I’ll get some push-back. Someone for whom arts degrees are a waste of time, and music lessons a diversion. So for these people I had to go about proving what I already know- music education provides benefits far beyond the music room. And what I found in the studies and facts is direct scientific evidence which brings to light why our mission is so important:
- Studying music increases cognitive ability in other subject areas. A 2010 study by B.H. Helmrich published in the Journal of Adolescent Research shows a positive correlation between music instruction and performance in algebra.
- Musical students show a stronger sense of cooperation and community. Caterall demonstrated in 2009 that students studying music show increased participation in community service, civic engagement and collaborative probem solving.
- Arts Participation increases school attendance and slashes drop-out rates. A number of studies (Catterall, 1998; Horn, 1992; Heath et al., 1998; Mahoney, & Cairns, 1997; Barry, 2010) have shown that students participating in Arts programs are more likely to attend school, less likely to drop out, and more likely to graduate.
None of these findings were surprising to me. What was surprising (and exciting!) was the sheer amount of research I uncovered to confirm the importance of music education. One great resource is http://www.artsedsearch.org, a site wholly dedicated to compiling research on arts education. Another comes from NAMM, which has put together a ton of research in the field. I particularly like their Facts and Quotes PDF, with over 50 pages of information supporting arts education!
Finding all of this scientific evidence for our mission here at ArtSmart has been a huge confidence builder for our team. Knowing that our instincts are backed by tons of research has helped shape our program and our message to donors, schools and partners.
There can be no denying it: Arts education is vital for our children!