Play on music education, play on
Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Updated: Thursday, October 13, 2011 17:10
According to a new study being published in Psychological Science, an extraordinarily effective way to improve the verbal intelligence of 4-6 year olds has been discovered: Train them using music.
The study focused on 48 children and divided them into two groups. One group was taught music fundamentals, such as rhythm, melody and pitch. The other group was taught basic visual art training, which included shapes, colors, lines and other concepts.
Both groups were taught lessons twice a day in one-hour sessions over the course of 20 days. Before entering the program, students were tested on their spatial and verbal intelligence. They were tested after the program was finished, and researchers found some interesting results.
No significant increases in verbal intelligence or brain changes were found in the children who completed the visual art training module, according to the study. Of those who were in the music program, 90 percent of the students had intelligence improvements that were five times larger than the other group. These improvements included increased vocabulary knowledge as well as increased accuracy and reaction time.
This study is an example that makes the case for preserving music education in these difficult economic times. Music is always an area that becomes a target for budget cuts during an economic crisis, and it should not be so.
Just last year in Bloomington, Ind., the Monroe County Community School Corp. voted to cut a music program known as the Elementary Strings Program. Nearly 150 students took part in this program, and the cut saved the district $20,000 a year, according to News Channel Six in Indianappolis. It was cut as part of a larger $4.5 million budget cut.
Many times, when a school is in a financial pinch, programs like drama, band and dance may be the first ones to take a hit, or be eliminated altogether. These are important programs that help expand the imagination of students and can have a positive effect on the intelligence of children, as shown in the study. There are other significant benefits to music education that make it worth saving.
According to VH1's Save The Music Foundation, music education can be of significant aid with regard to cognitive development. Students in high-quality music education programs score higher on standardized tests as opposed to students in lesser programs, according to the Foundation.
Another benefit is personal and academic success. According to the Foundation, students consistently involved in orchestra or band during their middle and high school years perform better in math at grade 12 than other students.
Many state and local budgets are facing strains due to tough economic times. Federal funding for states is also facing trouble in several areas. Music education, however, carries significant benefits that help students to succeed later in life.
The increases in cognitive development and verbal intelligence are examples of how music can help students to learn. Without music programs, the learning experience of students will suffer, and an important avenue for imagination and creativity will be taken away from them. We must preserve music education for students.