Music can help students score better in math, science, and English
Music has proved to be beneficial in many ways but now a recent study discovered a new benefit of it. According to the finding, high school students who take music courses score significantly better in math, science and English exams than their peers.
School administrators needing to trim budgets often look first to music courses, because the general belief is that students who devote time to music rather than math, science, and English, will underperform in those disciplines.
“Our research proved this belief wrong and found the more the students engage with music, the better they do in those subjects. The students who learned to play a musical instrument in elementary and continued playing in high school not only score significantly higher, but were about one academic year ahead of their non-music peers with regard to their English, mathematics and science skills, as measured by their exam grades, regardless of their socioeconomic background, ethnicity, prior learning in mathematics and English, and gender,” said the study’s principal investigator, Peter Gouzouasis in the study published in the journal of Educational Psychology.
Gouzouasis and his team examined data from all students in public schools who finished Grade 12 between 2012! and 2015. The data sample, made up of more than 112,000 students, included those who completed at least one standardized exam for math, science, and English, and for whom the researchers had appropriate demographic information including gender, ethnicity, neighborhood socioeconomic status, and prior learning in numeracy and literacy skills.
Students who studied at least one instrumental music course in the regular curriculum counted as students taking music. Qualifying music courses are courses that require previous instrumental music experience and include concert band, conservatory piano, orchestra, jazz band, concert choir, and vocal jazz.
The researchers found the predictive relationships between music education and academic achievement were more pronounced for those who took instrumental music rather than vocal music. The findings suggested skills learned in instrumental music transfer very broadly to the students’ learning in school.
“Learning to play a musical instrument and playing in an ensemble is very demanding. A student has to learn to read music notation, develop eye-hand-mind coordination, develop keen listening skills, develop team skills for playing in an ensemble and develop the discipline to practice. All those learning experiences and more play a role in enhancing the learner’s cognitive capacities, executive functions, motivation to learn in school, and self-efficacy,” said the study’s co-investigator Martin Guhn.
“Often, resources for music education including the hiring of trained, specialized music educators, and band and stringed instruments are cut or not available in elementary and secondary schools so that they could focus on math, science and English. The irony is that music education multiple years of high-quality instrumental learning and playing in a band or orchestra or singing in a choir at an advanced level can be the very thing that improves all-around academic achievement and an ideal way to have students learns more holistically in schools,” concluded Gouzouasis.
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