#TeachingTuesday #1: The Contributions of Music Education

If I ever wanted to find a site to suggest further research on the positive correlations for music education, I think this article might be the place. The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) recently tweeted the link, but the article dates to 2007. Obviously, I would need to find more recent links, but this is a great start!

First, NAfME provides links to useful positively-biased music education organizations such as Support Music, Music Friends, The Sounds of Learning Project, and others. Then it provides the stats.

Music benefits society: Those who participate in the communal music activities such as choir, band, and orchestra learn how to communicate with others, work with others to produce a successful result, and see the talents in others. I'll have to check with some of my music friends, but I think that it is the students in collaboration with their teacher who choose the leaders of their organization; therefore, they also know what it takes to be a leader and respect for that leader. NAfME also cites that students who participate in music activities are more likely to be financially successful as they require skill development far beyond any typical English, science, or math class. Perhaps the best summary about the benefit to society is this: "These include the ability to think critically, to transcend local loyalties and to approach international problems as a 'citizen of the world'."

Music benefits school and learning: Students who participate in school are more likely to graduate and less likely to participate in criminal activities. In previous blogs, I've discussed how music participation has a positive correlation to improved study skills, communication, higher standardized test scores, and improved academic performance. Using the statistics provided by NAfME, the National Association of Music Merchants adds that music majors represent the highest amount of accepted students in medical school. This is based on a 1994 study, but I have to assume that the trend has continued.

Upon reading these statistics on how music enhances school performance, I'm reminded of a book I read recently about hip-hop culture in college. The most striking information in this book was that of sampling. Sampling in hip hop music relates to using previous music in newer music: Think of Sean Combs, aka P. Diddy, aka Puff Daddy, who sampled the Police's Every Breath You Take in his I'll Be Missing You. A student, considered a hip hop collegian, similarly samples information and critically examines the information. Petchauer, who wrote Hip Hop Culture in Students' Lives, describes these students as information seekers. I qualify this as a benefit to learning; though Petchauer doesn't specifically speak about those who have participated in music activities but rather those who have a greater degree of music appreciation than others.

Music benefits intelligence: Similar to school enhancement, music also contributes to increased brain activity, perhaps even neuroplasticity. I wrote in a recent blog how Sting's extended immersion in music appreciation including vocal and instrument learning, contributed to cross-hemisphere activity. Those with little to no music experience showed only mono-hemisphere activity. Other research shows that music activity has a high correlation to memory, sensitivity to sound, and general communication.

Finally, music benefits life: NAfME shares that music correlates to the development of new ideas, a quality even greater than any academic skills. Music active individuals are often more likely to adapt to changing situations. NAfME also talks about earlier life satisfaction, which makes me think of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Theory of Flow where an individual will perform best in an area that most balances interest and challenge. If a child experiences both interest and challenge at an early age, in which music does, perhaps this will lead the individual to continue to seek those areas that offer the same balance, and perhaps this individual will be more likely to develop a concrete career earlier than others.

Perhaps you could substitute sports or another activity for music which could show the same results. What do you think?
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