All around the country, in harsh economic times, the first programs to get cut in education are usually the arts. In particular, music education is an area neglected by government funding in our public education system.
The thinking is that music education does not serve as pressing of importance as other subject areas. This is truly a shame. Until we can learn as a society that trying to educate all children to be the same cookie-cutter adults, we will never be able to help them reach their full potential.
Luckily, there are people out there who still fight for a student’s right to music and the arts. These people understand the benefits of music education, and are not ashamed to speak out about it. Some of these benefits are as follows:
A youngster’s early involvement with music education helps his brain to develop, particularly on the left side. This is the area that helps us process language. By introducing a child to music education and keeping it an active part of his life throughout these crucial development periods, we are equipping him to excel in the core subject area of English language arts.
There is a link between music and visual learning. Spatial intelligence, or accurate perception of the world and the ability to think visually, is a learning skill most beneficial in a child’s ability to comprehend problems of math and logic.
Studying the arts opens a window for children to more easily study and understand other cultures. It builds empathy for people of different backgrounds, and helps children adapt to their changing world. It is also something adults can emotionally profit from. A great film for demonstrating the benefits of music education in this sense is the recent film The Visitor.
With the advent of No Child Left Behind, standardized test scores are becoming more important than ever before. Recent studies have illuminated the fact that students who study the arts are more successful on these assessments, and thus more prepared for a life beyond the walls of high school.
Music, believe it or not, teaches students how to tell right from wrong in a way that transcends moral standards and reaches out to households of varying beliefs. It accomplishes this, quite simply, through the art of playing and listening. In music, a sour note is just that. The ear responds immediately to folly, and students, as a result learn what works and what does not.
The study of music builds teamwork skills through activities such as choir and orchestra. In order for the group to sound good, the success and unity of individuals working together is required. It also teaches students to set goals and reach them.
Any teacher who has ever had to confiscate an iPod knows just how much value students place on their musical choices. When asked what they look for in good music, students often respond to the effect that music is their form of self-expression, and they could not be closer to the truth. Music is a viable form of expression for students, and it often opens up avenues of creativity and personality that will prepare them for the rocky road ahead.
There are many other benefits of music education, but we should not focus on the amount, but rather the effectiveness. If one child can become more than he ever thought he could be through the gift of music, then it serves a purpose for the whole.