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Do Re Mi: The Importance of Music Education

Updated on July 10, 2017
Rachel Dawidowicz profile image

Rachel is a social rights activist and feminist. She is an engineering student, writer, musician, and record collector.

This is my mom and I around 2001 or so, teaching me "open strings"
This is my mom and I around 2001 or so, teaching me "open strings"
I call this "The Drunk Oboe Player" apparently to non musicians many ask if this is a flute.
I call this "The Drunk Oboe Player" apparently to non musicians many ask if this is a flute.

A life long passion

When I was three, my mom introduced me to the world of music. It all began with the cello. I would quit eight years later due to academic reasons. That hasn't stopped me from moving on towards another instrument. When I was nine, I began playing oboe, and stuck with it throughout my school years, even into college. That wooden instrument that represented a duck in Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and The Wolf remained to keep my last drop of sanity.

Music education has importance in the world of education. It is more than clapping hands in elementary school, and impressing your parents at the school winter concert in high school. Yet it is the first program that gets the budget cuts.

Music in the Womb and newborns

Music has many benefits that start in the womb. Just like talking to your baby, music has benefits. Hearing the vibrations of music gives the fetus a sense of familiarity. However, after birth, hearing classical music in particular has been linked to better math skills. Also interestingly, children whose parents are musicians, who practiced while pregnant or around the pregnant mother, would more likely recognize that familiarity if heard again after birth. My mom tells me stories how she not only practiced while pregnant, but performed too.

Hearing music early on actually helps in brain development. While your baby won't become the next Einstein, music will give him an early start to cognitive development.

Music education and test scores
Music education and test scores | Source

Math and Music: Does music improve math skills?

Johnny has 4 1/2 apples, he gives Max 3. How many apples does Johnny have left? 1 1/2 right?

Like math, music requires basic arithmetic. A quarter note is a quarter of a beat. Divide it by 2, you get an eighth, divide by 2 again, one thirty second note, so on and so forth. This is called Subdivision

When baking a cake, you divide appropriately to size down serving size. Also, figuring out how many beats in a measure requires being able to count the subdivided beats in your head. Music classes won't make you into a world renown mathematician, but it does help out the math teacher a bit.


More Brain Power

Playing an instrument is much more than just moving your fingers up and down the fretboard, blowing into a horn to make sound, and reading notes. You are literally using your entire brain to play music. Motor skills are key when reading music, going note to note whether pressing down keys of a woodwind, or going into various positions on violin. Reaction is key to playing. Reading sheet movements helps you read faster, and attention span increases as you always watch what the conductor does. You are using every lobe in your brain.

Ted Ed on Music and the Brain

Graduation rates in schools with music education

Statistics have proven that children that received some degree of music education are more likely to graduate. In fact, the graduation rate of schools with music programs have a 90.2% graduation rate, with an 84.9% attendance rate. Why?

Studies have shown that students in performance groups not only achieved higher test scores than their non performing peers, but also, those students are less likely to engage in reckless activities such as substance abuse.

Music and Age

All the band rehearsals you've been to and college orchestras you participated it has a long term effect, as you age. Just like knowing a second language is beneficial for the aging brain, so is music. Those who played an instrument when they were younger, or continue in their golden years reported having a higher memory capacity than those who don't. Also their motor, and alertness is reported to be better than their peers who haven't played an instrument.

Lifelong Memories

This section is about the experiences and memories music has given me. Being the only oboist in my high school band, I was always heard, and well my band director didn't appreciate it. One time she got pretty annoyed at my playing, she threw a pen at me. After that it became a inside joke between us.

I remember helping my bandmate ask his girlfriend to prom, by using instruments to spell out prom, and a saxophone as the question mark. My junior year of high school, a beloved band director of many years set his baton down and retired. I remember every music student in the audience in tears, we are a family. While unlike sports, the winter and spring concerts aren't profitable, we still learn the importance of teamwork, leadership, and perseverance. Music education really does go beyond the clapping practices in elementary school. As those elementary school clappers pick up an instrument, play it throughout middle school into high school, they will learn more about themselves than the hours they dedicated to practicing.


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