In 2008 senator Barack Obama put out a powerful platform in support of the Arts. He argued for reinvesting in art education because the creativity stemming from these arts made the country a great one. After being elected, though, the pressures of higher reading and mathematics skills pushed things like art to the side, with one of the bigger things to receive cuts being music education. With schools being forced to cut back on music many students have never gotten the chance to play an instrument and know what it feels like to indulge themselves in something so much more passionate than a word problem.
Decades even before the cuts were made to music education, researchers studied how important music is in the education system. Positive outcomes were found not only in the classroom, but in standardized testing. According to one of the biggest studies, after 10 years of following 25,000 high school students, regardless of their home lives and backgrounds, children who were involved in music scored exceptionally higher than those with little to no music skills.
But that isn’t all, according to another study done by the College Entrance Examination Board, kids that were in music programs scored up to 44 points higher on the math portion of the SAT compared to those who weren’t. Who knew that picking up a trumpet or learning a simple scale could boost your math skills, right?
I’ve been involved in the music education programs at the high school since I was in 7th grade. Music was in the middle of the day for me; being my only actual elective available to take, it gave me a break from all of the other classes I had. It was nice to take my nose out of the books and be able to use a different part of my brain for while. I was in Orchestra and Choir until my freshman year, when I had to put away my violin because of schedule complications.
The benefits of music education are not just simply academic; many studies have found that music brings out a positive social life. A Columbia University study found that students who are involved in music are more cooperative with their teachers and their peers. Performing with others also requires students to build critical thinking and problem-solving skills, so students that are in choir, band, or orchestra learn patience, discipline, and collaboration.
Music also gives a child a supportive environment, helping them learn constructive criticism and helping them learn to take risks. It also provides an environment that also helps kids feel like they belong somewhere. You don’t have to be good at sports to play an instrument, and it brings students together in the school community. A band can consist of the star quarterback and the class brain who work together and have something in common. Some of my greatest friends I have made I met through music and the arts; without those programs I don’t think I would have ever even spoken a single word to them.
By Allison Reinhart, www.crookstonetimes.com, www.msidallas.com