Music Education Is More Important Than People Realise

This past month the Doug Ford government cut funding to arts education. For those who are not involved in the arts this doesn’t seem like a big problem, but it could actually be harming our students’ chances of success in other classes, especially math.

An elementary school in California developed a new way to help younger students learn math by having them play the equation through tapping out rhythms.

An innovative curriculum uses rhythm to teach fractions at a California school where students in a music-based programme scored significantly higher on math tests than their peers who received regular instruction.

“Academic Music” is a hands-on curriculum that uses music notation, clapping, drumming and chanting to introduce third-grade students to fractions.

The Telegraph

There was also a study done where they looked at how big an impact listening to music in class during math would have on test scores, again those with music involved in their curriculum scored almost 40% higher than those without.

While just listening to music while working on math may be incredibly helpful, especially with fractions, playing music is even more advantageous, because at the heart of it all every piece of music is a giant math equation. You need to have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of math in order to score and play music. So it is safe to say that playing and writing music can also help with the reverse.

Dr. Frances Rauscher of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has been heavily involved in research on music and cognitive performance. She gives far more credit to the active playing of instruments than simply passive listening.

In her 2006 article published in the Educational Psychologist, she explains that “young children provided with instrumental instruction score significantly higher on tasks measuring spatial-temporal cognition, hand-eye coordination and arithmetic.” Part of this is due to the amount of overlap between music skills and math skills. For example, Rauscher says the part-whole concept that is necessary for understanding fractions, decimals and per cents is highly relevant in understanding rhythm. “A literate musician is required to continually mentally subdivide beat to arrive at the correct interpretation of rhythmic notation,” she writes. “The context has changed, but the structure of the problem is essentially the same as any part-whole problem posed mathematically.”

Vancouver Sun

While music can help with math directly, it can also indirectly help with almost every other subject. Playing an instrument takes dedication, perseverance and hard work. All skills that will bleed into other subjects at school, as well as into the daily lives of musicians. Not to mention, your fine motor skills are also improved by playing an instrument. Your hand eye coordination, memory, and even lung capacity can be built up through playing an instrument. Musicians are generally more confident and outgoing, which can lead to more success later in life due to networking and being able to build relationships . But confidence also helps in school because confident students second guess themselves less, which can help improve grades on tests, and also help during presentations.

Music education is incredibly important, and we shouldn’t lose site of that. Improving the lives and education of the younger generations should be bi-partisan. It shouldn’t even be political to begin with.


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