There have been many times when music has been treated as an entertainment class and not an academic. I think it might be because music is one of the earliest forms of learning (think ancient times). Now, as a musician and educator, it might seem biased for me to rant and rave about the importance of music in schools, but I intend on using examples of proven research and experiences to demonstrate music’s importance in schools.
Music helps improve performance of other academics. Music has been long associated with mathematics. By learning beat, rhythm, and scales, children are essentially learning how to divide, create fractions, and recognize patterns. I also believe that reading music ties in with reading; when I went into sixth grade, I was at a fourth-grade reading level. This was also my second year of learning flute in band, which started expanding on my musical knowledge. I truly believe that being in band helped increase my reading level to a mid-sixth grade level by the end of the school year. Reciting and reading music also utilizes the memory part of the brain, recollecting short term memory that eventually leads to long term memory. There is also physical memory when learning to play an instrument, as well as basic physics of sound.
Non-music teachers or parents may view the class as a way to entertain the students, this might be because of the social aspects. When you perform music for others, it might bring them joy which brings them closer to you, which might also help with making new friends. If you play with a group of musicians, you share a sense of fellowship. Band was a prime example of this; I had many friends of different ages that I could connect with. Music is a universal language; it helps us connect with people from other cultures when we listen to and appreciate music from that culture, even if we don’t understand what is being said.
Music teaches life skills as well. Music not only develops social skills, but also reasoning, self-improvement, emotional development, intellect, creative, discipline, confidence, and teamwork skills. For example, working to create good music rather than mediocre, through consistent practicing, perseverance through struggling parts, recording and listening to improvements, and adding emotion. When you perform, and people praise you for your improvement, skills, and efforts, it instills confidence. When you work with an ensemble, like band, orchestra, or choir, that instills teamwork.
The research is there. Not only is music an entertaining outlet, but it has countless benefits that anyone who has taken several years of music courses would recognize. So, I hope you can appreciate just how wonderful learning music is, and recognize what benefits it could bring, especially to our schools.