Investigations on the benefit music education may provide for young, developing children have been conducted for several years. Though all questions have not been answered concerning the concrete advantages of music education as it relates to the achievement levels of students, research does show a positive outcome in various results. Among these results, there has been significant support for the growing effect on student’s social interactions, scholastic achievement, critical thinking, and creativity. By looking at different research studies and efforts put forth in order to evaluate the true need for music education in school learning curriculums, one can better understand some of the surprising skills attained through participation in music education. An improvement in standardized test scores within the subject areas of reading and mathematics, along with the enhancement of answers for everyday tests of knowledge would prove the needed presence of music in the curriculums of all schools.
Before proving the overall effect music has on test scores and similar models for academic achievement, understanding the known advantages of the subject is key. Some of the foundations for academic success depend on the basic skills of creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking, which can be essential in math and reading (Willis). Social development in students is enhanced through the production of music, which requires a form of social interaction among musicians in order to properly play a composition (Willis). Skills learned by students while in school are carried throughout life, including the processes of gathering and organizing information, which are mechanisms occurring in the brain while a person is recognizing the patterns and structure of a piece of music (Vitale 321). Another basic skill required for everyday life outside of a classroom is cognitive function, which is faster in the presence of music since comprehending difficult musical passages in a timely manner is oftentimes needed (Willis). By understanding the effect music has on the basic levels of achievement used both in and out of a classroom setting, researchers and the general public can begin to appreciate the possible future for music and scholastic achievements within the areas of math and reading.
There are many research studies conducted in order to find the relationship between music and mathematics. Studying the achievement levels of students deficient in music and students excellent in music supported the fact that schools with a good music program resulted in higher mathematics scores than schools with poor music programs, while those same schools with poor music programs would have higher mathematics scores than schools that had no music programs at all (Johnson and Memmott 300). Another study showed similar results, but also provided information explaining that the longer a student participates in music education, the more significant the difference will be when comparing test scores (Hallam and Rogers 254). In other studies, music education has proven to play a role in the improvement of mathematical skills such as ratios and proportions because music is without a physical model (Willis). Receiving feedback based on the opinions of participants within a study has shown that the participants within the tested groups would agree that the participation in music education has enhanced the mathematic achievements in the developing years of a student (Vitale 330). Through the investigation of music education and its effect on the achievement levels of students in the mathematics subject area, a person can better understand the basic mathematical skills that are also incorporated into the comprehension of musical compositions.
The reading levels that students have been able to achieve are influenced by many factors, including a student’s active participation in music. While reading a piece of sheet music does not require the same level of comprehension as reading a book or other pieces of literature, it does require some of the basic components of cognitive function and processing in the brain (Cogo-Moreira et al). Among these basic levels of comprehension, a student’s ability to recognize pitch allows the auditory cortex to develop, which further allows the student to improve in reading skills through hearing (Cogo-Moreira et al). One study showed that the longer students had been actively participating in music education, the more significant the improvement would be when comparing reading scores among students with different lengths of exposure to music education (Hallam and Rogers 251). This evidence was similar to the explanation for mathematic achievements. Another study showed that students attending schools without music programs were on average less successful in their achievement in reading scores than the students attending schools with any quality music program (Johnson and Memmott 300). By looking at the effect music education has on the achievement levels of students in the reading area, a person is able to understand the basic levels of comprehension associated with reading music and words as well as the improvements in reading based on a child’s level of participation in a music program.
Examining the influence music has on the achievement levels of students in the areas of mathematics and reading proved to be a positive one. While further research and analysis would need to be conducted in order to form a more concrete explanation, there is at least a start in the countless research to come. By participating in music education at a very young age, a student not only forms the basic cognitive functions of daily life, but also the more involved and complex thinking and analysis involved in subjects studied in school (Willis). Reading is enhanced by the development of the auditory cortex because this area of the brain controls hearing that is also associated with the ability to recognize pitch (Cogo-Moreira et al). Basic math skills such as the recognition of patterns, problem solving, critical thinking, and categorizing by groups are all concepts needed when playing or singing a piece of music (Vitale 321). With more research being conducted and more answers being found, the general public will begin to see the growing need for music education within all levels of students’ scholastic experiences.
- Cogo-Moreira, Hugo, et al. ‘Effectiveness of Music Education for the Improvement of Reading Skills and Academic Achievement in Young Poor Readers: A Pragmatic Cluster-Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial.’ PLoS One, vol. 8, no. 3, March 2013. ProQuest, nclive.org/cgi-bin/nclsm?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1330908730?accountid=12723, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0059984. Accessed 3 Nov. 2018.
- Hallam, Susan, and Kevin Rogers. ‘The Impact of Instrumental Music Learning on Attainment at Age 16: A Pilot Study.’ British Journal of Music Education, vol. 33, no. 3, December 2016, pp. 247-261. ProQuest, nclive.org/cgi-bin/nclsm?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1846498464?accountid=12723, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0265051716000371. Accessed 3 Nov. 2018.
- Johnson, Christopher M., and Jenny E. Memmott. ‘Examination of Relationships between Participation in School Music Programs of Differing Quality and Standardized Test Results.’ Journal of Research in Music Education, vol. 54, no. 4, Winter 2006, pp. 293-307. ProQuest, nclive.org/cgibin/nclsm?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/214473105?accountid=12723. Accessed 3 Nov. 2018.
- Vitale, John L. ‘Music Makes You Smarter: A New Paradigm for Music Education? Perceptions and Perspectives from Four Groups of Elementary Education Stakeholders.’ Canadian Journal of Education, vol. 34, no. 3, 2011, pp. 317-343. ProQuest, nclive.org/cgi-bin/nclsm?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/903202577?accountid=12723. Accessed 3 Nov. 2018.
- Willis, Curt G. Impact of Music on Mathematics Achievement Scores among Middle School Students, Walden University, Ann Arbor, 2016. ProQuest, nclive.org/cgi-bin/nclsm?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1756780265?accountid=12723. Accessed 3 Nov. 2018.