Music is a wonderful invention, maybe even one of the greatest. It is a cultural phenomenon that people have used since the dawn of society. According to Plato, music gives the soul to the universe, gaiety to life, imagination flight, and wings to the mind. It extends from art to a literal expression of beauty. It presents the possibility of infinite manifestation of thrill, tremor, excitement, love, and harmony. Not to mention that the perfection of each strain of music reveals incomplete completion. The relevance of music as a recreational and spiritual activity hasn’t changed a bit. But what about education? Is music relevant to educational needs?
As a music teacher, I can confirm that music is a fundamental aspect of human nature that traverses from unity to cultural diversity (Joseph et al. 32, 33). Music is a necessary implementation in schools as it positively affects one’s psyche and enchases educational performance, but unfortunately, most public schools do not offer music lessons. I will address why music should be a part of public-school education by explaining the music dynamics through my teaching experience.
Music opens up numerous potential avenues for enriching children’s education. Laura Alcaraz posits that introducing music to students, especially in public-school classes, is vital to a child’s growth and development (1). Another benefit is that music teaches focus, brings engagement, and serves as a creative outlet for young learners (Alcaraz 1). Apart from volunteering for the Arts Alliance of Walker County every Tuesday, teaching second-grade sounds has been among the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I help teach music, beats, rhythm, note names, read music, and play instruments. The experience enabled a clear understanding of how music transcends beyond the melody and notes among children. Notably, music learning bolsters motivation-related and social-personal skills because music is demanding (Guhn et al. 310).
It requires hours upon hours of practice with full commitment to the process. Dedication to music can improve children’s goal orientation, time management, and attention to detail. In addition, learning music in collaboration, such as chorus or orchestra, improves teamwork, and discipline and promotes bonding among students (Alcaraz 5; Guhn et al. 310). Subsequently, these skills and bonds can be easily applied to all manner of other activities.
Indeed, music classes serve students beyond the classroom. It is evident to me how music learning helps students put their memory into use when they write notes and perform. Albi Odendaal and his co-writers contend that early music training helps develop the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and language (5). Similar to sports, music aids in developing motor skills like eye and hand coordination. Music classes offer children a repetitive form of fun, thus developing recognition skills and auditory attention. Moreover, music engagement can enhance children’s self-esteem when they achieve new heights of musical mastery (Alcaraz 5). Investing in musical education in public schools can directly impact children’s social and intellectual levels, as well as further academic achievements.
There is a statistical basis for my claim that music classes correlate with academic performance. One of the studies on the topic has been conducted in British Columbia, Canada, by Martin Guhn and his colleagues. Scientists researched more than a hundred thousand educational records of 4 public schools, examining relations between music education and academic performance. The classes in the study were mathematics, science, English, and overall academic achievements from seventh to twelfth grade (Guhn et al. 308).
The paper uses Cohen’s d range and statistically shows that music influences education. Music engagement related to higher scores in all four subjects with small to medium effect from instrumental music and null to small effect from a vocal (Guhn et al. 308). Furthermore, a higher level of engagement proved to influence exam scores with medium and small effect ranges (Guhn et al. 308). Other studies, as Alcaraz notes, proved that music correlates to increases in IQ and standardized test scores, enrichment of vocabulary, and advancement of reading skills (4). The question we must ask is not why we should but why we haven’t already reinstated music classes in public schools.
School music participation, especially of instrumental nature, exerts a beneficial influence on students. Therefore, it saddens me deeply that the majority of public schools reduced or even eliminated music education programs starting in 2012 (Alcaraz 5). What makes this fact controversial is that many teachers and parents know how influential music education is. In the study on music education in the United States, most teachers and parents involved would rather cut a whole list of different things than eliminate music classes (Alcaraz 6).
However, educational institutions have nonetheless cut music classes because their focus shifted. Nowadays, education management bodies emphasize science, mathematics, English, and social sciences, while music classes are suggested less and less. Another problem that I think is worth mentioning is that although some schools have music classes, music content standards are not always met (Alcaraz 6). These troubles stress the absolute necessity to propagate music education, its benefits, and standards and petition responsible authorities to reinstate music classes in public schools.
Of course, I am well aware of possible counterclaims and questions such as ‘children may be uninterested’ or ‘why should we teach kids music when they won’t necessarily become successful musicians?’ On this topic, Cheryl Lavender says: “The fact that children can make beautiful music is less significant than the fact that music can make beautiful children” (qtd. in Alcaraz 5). I second that inspirational statement and hasten to add that making music education interesting and productive for students is my responsibility as a teacher. Dawn Joseph and his associates conducted a social experiment in their research, teaching culture and languages through multicultural music (40). That experience was both enjoyable and insightful for the participants despite their lack of knowledge of the topics (Joseph et al. 38–40).
We, as teachers, should remember that enabling students to use the knowledge acquired during music classes elsewhere is the most significant goal. As such, music education is a means to cultivate the mind and spirit, promoting general development and a love for studying.
I strongly believe that music classes should be a part of public-school classes. I have first-hand experience to vouch for this necessity, and numerous researchers, teachers, and parents will back it as well. The studies, statistical data, theories, and points of view all underline that music is as valuable as any school subject. Music classes enhance the educational capabilities of children, which helps them flourish in other classes. Moreover, music education can build children’s intellectual curiosity, literacy, and perpetual skills and prepare them for the 21st-century workforce. If we are concerned about our children’s future and want them to prosper, we should consider music classes a must.
Alcaraz, Laura. Bringing Music Back into the Classroom and Its Benefits on Elementary School Students. 2019. BA project. Capstone Projects and Master’s Theses. Web.
Guhn, Martin, et al. “A Population-Level Analysis of Associations Between School Music Participation and Academic Achievement.” Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 112, no. 2, 2020, pp. 308–328. Web.
Joseph, Dawn, et al. “Creating Multicultural Music Opportunities in Teacher Education: Sharing Diversity through Songs.” Australian Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 43, no. 5, 2018, pp. 32–47. Web.
Odendaal, Albi, et al. “Lost in Translation? Neuroscientific Research, Advocacy, and the Claimed Transfer Benefits of Musical Practice.” Music Education Research, vol. 21, no. 1, 2019, pp. 4–19. Web.