Academic Achievement

MUSIC CLASSES ARE A VITAL PART of student academic achievement. The importance of music and fine arts has been debated in school board rooms across the country for several years. As budgets are trimmed and school music programs are cut, this becomes an important question to answer. These music and arts programs are an important component of student learning and success.

Music programs are not extras!
Instrumental and vocal music classes are often referred to as "extracurricular" classes. Music is anything but "extracurricular". Music classes offer many benefits which make them very indispensable. Performance programs enhance a student's sense of self esteem as well as their social skills. Students become a part of a positive group and organization. Not only do students profit socially from music programs, but they also gain academically.

"The term 'core academic subjects' means English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography." No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, Title IX, Part A, Sec. 9101 (11)

Several studies have confirmed that music directly enhances learning through increased spatial development. Math and reading are improved by learning rhythms and decoding notes and symbols. So there appears to be cross disciplinary learning in music.

Music makes the grade!
For years elementary teachers have decried the music pullout program (students are taken out of class to receive music instruction once or twice a week) because of "lost instruction" time. However, according to many studies these fears are unfounded.

An investigation in 1983 under the authority of David Circle, music supervisor for the Shawnee Mission Schools District, was undertaken to determine the effects on mathematic problem solving and reading comprehension test scores for students who were removed from their elementary classrooms for instrumental instruction for two 30 minute sessions each week. Analysis revealed that the instrumental students scored higher in both mathematics problem solving and reading comprehension. The study was repeated in 1989, and the same results were obtained.

Researchers in Hamilton, Ohio, documented that students participating in an instrumental pullout program scored higher on the reading, mathematics and citizenship portions of the Ohio Proficiency Test (OPT), than their non-music peers. This study paired instrumental and non-music students based on their verbal Cognitive Abilities Test (COGAT). Four groups of instrumental students were released two times a week for instruction. Two of those four groups scored significantly higher on the reading and mathematics portion of the OPT than their non-music peers. Additionally, 68% of instrumental students scored at grade level or higher on all four sections of the test compared to 58% of the non-music students. For more information (Michael D. Wallick, Ohio City Schools)

Music Makes You Smarter!
Students with coursework/experience in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT: students in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on the math, and students in music appreciation scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on the math, than did students with no arts participation. College-Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers. Princeton, NJ: The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001.

Additionally, data revealed that for every year a student participated in music instruction, their SAT scores improved. Students with four or more years of music study received an average score of about 544 as opposed to a score just above 482 for those with half a at least one semester of music instruction, thus showing a strong correlation between music and overall academic success. (For more information see MENC Web Page)

In an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data on more than 25,000 secondary school students (NELS:88, National Education Longitudinal Survey), researchers found that students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show "significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12." This observation holds regardless of students' socio-economic status, and differences in those who are involved with instrumental music vs. those who are not is more significant over time. Catterall, James S., Richard Chapleau, and John Iwanaga. "Involvement in the Arts and Human Development: General Involvement and Intensive Involvement in Music and Theater Arts." Los Angeles, CA: The Imagination Project at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, 1999..

Data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 showed that music participants received more academic honors and awards than non-music students, and that the percentage of music participants receiving As, As/Bs, and Bs was higher than the percentage of non- participants receiving those grades. NELS:88 First Follow-up, 1990, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington DC

Students who participated in arts programs in selected elementary and middle schools in New York City showed significant increases in self-esteem and thinking skills. National Arts Education Research Center, New York University, 1990

Whether the results are a reflection of a direct cognitive connection or other factors, such as higher self-esteem, and involvement in school, the outcome is no less important. Music does influence and impact student learning and success.

Music for everyone
Humans have the need to belong, to be part a group of individuals who share interests, and who come together for a common purpose. Such needs are as important to children and teens as they are to people in mid-life and to senior adults. A three-year research undertaking called the Music Making And Wellness Research Project, has underscored the relationship between group music making and wellness.

The facts show that music is an important avenue to individual success. Music should be made available to all students in all schools. Music programs hold an influential place in school and academic structure. When consideration is being given to program and budget cuts administrators, parents, counselors and teachers need to know that music education is not just an "extra" elective to fill students' schedules, but a vital part of a completeā€ academic" education.

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 Music Education Services
1041 Bonaventure Drive
Elk Grove Village, IL

Fax 847-805-1900 

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Music Education Services (MES) provides comprehensive band programs to elementary schools.