Music Education: A Source For Brain Power

In todays society, people are constantly looking for new ways to have students produce more from their public education. Some argue that more funding is the answer, while others say that better learning facilities will help. Studies recently conducted show that a simple change in the curriculum will produce the outcome that people are searching for. The simple change is music education. Music education has been shown to improve general academic skills as well as social skills in children. If music classes are added to a childs schedule, they will begin to show an increase in learning that educators are looking for.

Get rid of the ideas of more funding and better facilities, all the students need is a simple music course in their everyday lives. Recent studies prove that music education is an effective way to increase the way children perform in overall academics. Jenny Yoon makes it clear in her dissertation to Biola University, that the effects of music education are only positive. Many studies show the connection of music education to academics, test scores, and grades. Research has shown great benefits between music and standardized tests.

A study was taken with 5,000 children that took the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS). One fourth of the students were taking part in some kind of music class. In the end, the one fourth of Sanchez 2 the enrolled students scored higher overall on the test than the other students. The study also showed that if they continue with music education, they would achieve higher than other students. Furthermore, those students enrolled in music classes score fifty-one points higher on the verbal section of the SAT and thirty-nine points higher on the mathematics section. (Yoon 9)

A current experiment conducted by Eugenia Costa-Giomi (spring99) showed incredible results with children and the effect piano lessons had on this group. The test made it clear that children who took piano lessons showed a greater increase in academic ability, than those who didnt take them at all, or even children that dropped out of lessons. The test showed that after two years of instruction, the child who took the lessons showed great increase in general and spatial test scores. The students who dropped out and didnt take lessons, stayed at the average level (Costa 207).

Vast results were discovered in cognitive ability as well. The child that took three years of lessons showed and increases of twenty-one percent in total cognitive abilities. She stated that students with more dedication and enthusiasm showed faster growth in their ability to play the piano there was also a greater and faster increase in cognitive ability. She suggests that music educators take note to the studies taken. If the music were mainstreamed into the public school system, then educators, state officials, and parents would find the results that they have been looking for. Costa 207) A great deal of research has been conducted to show how exactly music education effects the human mind.

People want to know how and why music causes these great results. They want to know what does it do to the brain that causes these results to Sanchez 3 occur. Dr. Frances Rauscher, of the University of Wisconsin, led an experiment to find out how music affects the mind. He discovered that music education increased the Spatial reasoning ability. He also found that music helped stimulate neural circuitry.

The neural circuitry system of the brain is what helps process information that has been thought to the child. If the neural circuitry system in stimulated, this will result an increased spatial reasoning ability. He tested this by subjecting a person, exposed to music lessons, to figure out a complex puzzle. Although he did not finish the puzzle, he completed a greater amount than his contender who was exposed to no music lessons. Rauscher also claims that music generates neural connections. These neural connections produce neural networks.

Neural networks mimic the brains learning and decision making process. If these connections are increased, they have a direct positive effect on abstract reasoning. Even the reasoning need to figure out complex math was increased. (Making Music) In an other study, Professor John Jenkins performed a test with two people that had experienced epileptic brainwaves more than ninety percent of the time. He than exposed these two cases to Mozart for five minutes. After the five minutes were up, he noticed that the epileptic brainwaves had dropped from ninety percent activity to fifty percent activity.

In another study conducted by Professor Jenkins involved an eight-year-old girl. In a four-hour period, this girl had experienced nine seizures. When exposed to a Mozart sonnet for ten minutes every hour, her seizures had dropped to only one seizure. Music education should not be overlooked as a possibility to reform a schools performance. Today, many people are beginning to believe that music can be the savior Sanchez 4 to currents school problems. I recently held a conversation with Dolores Sanchez an elementary school principal for almost twenty-two years now.

She has been working in the Camden school district, a district that receives a threat by the state to be taken over almost every year. This has been occurring for nearly twelve years now. When I asked her about where she stands on the topic of integrating music to the childrens schedules, she immediately responded with enthusiasm. She claims that adding music into the childrens schedule would help the students performance in almost every subject. She also stated that music is a great boost in the childrens confidence. Mrs. Sanchez stated, In this area, if a child is feeling low, they can turn to drugs and other things. Music can help them steer away from those problems. The government also has been toying with the idea of trying to create a national curriculum, where music classes will be required to take. Bill Clinton was quoted saying that, learning improves in school environments where there are comprehensive music programs. We need to keep supporting. . . . This type of support should continue until music is a part of the lives of children.

Our country is one of the last to catch on to this great discovery. Dr. Peter Suzuki, President of Yamaha Corp. , states that in countries like Japan and Germany, that music courses have already made there way into a national curriculum. In Germany, students are to receive a minimum of forty-five minutes of music learning. In Japan, the Ministry of Education has demanded that there be a minimum of two hours a week of music instruction in grades one through nine. These classes must also be taught by a music specialist, and must cover music appreciation and expression through music.

Sanchez 5 Suzuki also states that in Japan, the classrooms are properly equipted with the proper materials to instruct lessons effectively. In Suzukis research, he finds that in a school in California, there are only five music specialists for 65,000 students. The ratio is one specialist for every 13,000 students. When Suzuki interviewed Stuart Glthold, Superintendent of these school districts, he quoted him saying, That in one of the nations school districts, ninety-nine percent of the students in K-12 do not receive a comprehensive Arts Program.

He claims that these figures are ridiculous and should be worked onto better improve the students. In Japan and Germany , they are also required to attend school for 240 days, where as in the United States, we are only required to attend school for 180 days. He claims that the sixty-day difference makes an improvement of thirty percent more instructional time. (Children) Music simply comes naturally to a child. In a brochure prepared by Frank Wilson, he states that music gives children a unique learning experience. Music can help develop physical coordination, timing, memory, visual, aural and learning skills.

Wilson states that music provides self-paced learning, which helps them gain important experience. This pace learning allows small victories or advances to lead to a sense of accomplishment. This type of experience proves to children that goals are achievable. Mental concentration and heightened personal and social awareness are also positive outcomes from music. Wilson notes, that music decreases anxiety in children and is also an essential of communication and contact with others. In his brochure, he claims that music brings children closer together.

Wilson claims that kids learn from kids and that socializing in group activities is a strong motivator as kids get older. Group activity Sanchez 6 provide children with reassurance, the chance to learns from others, and expose children to a mild competitive atmosphere that has the ability to encourage learning and practice. (Wilson 1-7) In retrospect, the effects of music have time and time again proven its self only to be effective. In countless studies, music education has proven to improve general academic and social skills in young children. We can only want the best for our children when they go to school.

The only effective and reasonable solution would be to implement the arts into the public school curriculum. There is no need for extra funding or new facilities. These ideas would only be aggravating to the taxpayers of this country and eventually prove themselves ineffective. Music education has proven itself worthy to be implemented on out children, and it is about time that we start. Works Cited Costa-Giomi, Eugenia. The Effects of Three Years of Piano Instruction on Childrens Cognitive Development. Journal of Music Education 47 (1999) : 198-212

Music Education for Young Children: Media and Research Center. May 2001http://www. music4kidsonline. com Rauschers research points to link between Intelligence and Music. Music making and the Brain. July. 1998. AMC. 23 Mar. 2001. http://www. amc-music. com/brain/rauscher. html Suzuki, Peter. Children at Risk. Grammy Magazine Aug. 1991: 1-3. Wilson, Frank R. ed. Music and Child Development: the biology of music making. St. Louis: MMR Music, 1990. Yoon, Jenny Nam. Music in the classroom: Its Influence on Childrens Brain Development, Academic Performance, and Practical life skills. Diss. Biola University, 2000.


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