Music education; an invaluable and life changing opportunity


Music has a positive impact on other aspects of traditional schooling. Marius Masalar/unsplash

JACK DENDINGER, staff writer

For many of us, music plays a role in our daily lives.  Whether we are a high schooler using our headphones to drown out the world’s noise spiraling around us, or a virtuoso logging countless hours a day at our musical craft, almost all of us live, breath, and consume music in some capacity.  Despite this, music education is often overlooked and cast to the side.

Many schools don’t even have a music program for their students.  This unfortunate fact of life is prevalent beginning at a young age.  In fact, according to Children’s Music Workshop, “Across the country, 1.3 million elementary school students still don’t have access to a music class.”

Although many people fail to see the value that a music education provides, in reality, music education is vital to a child’s social and emotional development, as well as the general development of their brain.

It has been shown time and time again that participation in music has been proven to improve students’ test scores. Peter Gouzouasis, who holds a PhD from the University of British Columbia, did a study on music participation and its impact on other areas of education.  After studying more than 100,000 Canadians, he found that, “Students who participated in music, who had higher achievement in music, and who were highly engaged in music had higher exam scores across all subjects.”  Additionally, as evidenced by the data from the 2016 College Board, students who participated in music and arts classes throughout high school averaged SAT scores 93 points higher than their non music-participating counterparts.

Clearly there is compelling evidence showing that music indirectly benefits all aspects of a student’s academic career, regardless of it not being thought of as a conventional subject.

The making of music has also been shown to positively impact the chemistry of children’s brains,  Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of John Hopkins University’s Peabody Preparatory department of Early Childhood Music, states that “There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training.”  He also asserts that musicians playing instruments “have to be using more of [their] brain.”  In other words, from a young age, music has the ability to positively influence the chemistry of our brains.  Furthermore, making music stimulates our brain in such a way that improves our cognitive abilities.

On another “note” music has the power to improve our moods, and mitigate stress.  Harvard Medical School highlights a study done in New York which analyzed music and its effects on surgical operations.  They found that out of the forty cataract surgery patients who participated in the trial, those who did not listen to music remained hypertensive throughout the operation while the pressures of the patients who listened to music came down quickly and stayed that way in the recovery room.

Stressors are common occurrences in student’s lives, and what better way to cope than to play music.  Music can be a way for kids to relax and let go of unnecessary stress building up within them. 

All this being said, PBS asserts that participating in some form of music necessitates collaboration amongst peers, and fosters long lasting and interpersonal connections.  PBS goes on to say that music allows a person to build a better understanding of themselves as well.  

Many argue that cutting music education benefits school districts as it provides more funding to other areas.  This may seem like a good idea, but in reality this isn’t the case.  Music classes tend to have large class sizes, resulting in a high student to teacher ratio.  By cutting music classes, more teachers actually need to be hired in order to handle the amount of students.  As such, the Merriam School of Music claims that this action is “short-sided” and actually does not benefit the school.

Music education truly is a life changer.  Not only does it have immense cognitive benefits, but music improves our moods, mitigates stress, positively impacts our brain chemistry, and fosters collaboration, creativity, and finding a true sense of self.  If not required, at the very least, a music education should be strongly encouraged to all students.