Does music education make children smarter?

It’s no secret that throughout the United States, music education programs are being eliminated due to funding. However the benefits these programs can bring are critical to young children’s development, and I believe music may even hold the key to closing the achievement gap between white children and minority students.

Based on research, early music education illustrates clear emotional and cognitive benefits for children. Increased processing of visual and spatial information, improved literacy, greater ability to learn a second language, academic accomplishment and perseverance are some of the traits associated with incorporating music education throughout youth. When learning to play an instrument, different parts of the brain are required to coordinate at once, which leads to stronger neural pathways. Additionally, children’s auditory systems are enhanced from this, and memory improves. This type of growth serves to heighten brain development throughout childhood, the benefits of which last through adulthood.

A recent study has demonstrated that it only takes 20 days of music education for there to be cognitive advancement in 90 percent of subjects. The evidence is overwhelmingly in support of music education and the positive outcomes it has on children.

Unfortunately, even in the cultural mecca of the world, most New York City public school students don’t enjoy access to music education throughout their schooling. It is important to fill the gaps in some way and non-profit organizations such as, Education Through Music, are volunteering to fill this void. Although their involvement is of positive benefit to the students involved, it is the hope that these non-profits will become part of an enhancement plan, rather than a substitution for school-based music education.

I think that music is more than just a supplementary learning tool; it is a necessary academic skill. Incorporating the right music programs in traditionally at-risk student populations has the potential to enhance learning and an interest in it – and to transcend some of the barriers that may make it difficult for minority, socio-economically challenged and other at-risk students to succeed.

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