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Music soothes our soul - and other benefits

Updated on August 11, 2015

Music's language

Musical notes communicate something!
Musical notes communicate something! | Source

My love of music

When I started college way back when, I wanted to pursue a degree in music. Off I trotted to college with my clarinet even though I hadn’t played it since I was a freshman in high school. I did not get along with my high school band director, so I quit and joined the choir instead. I rejoined the band as a dance team member where I dealt with the sponsor instead of the director. Anyway, my first college roommate was also a music major. Melanie played the flute, and wow – she was really good! I auditioned for the marching band, and succeeded in gaining a spot.

However, I forgot about one important element of majoring in music; being good really didn’t matter too much if you lacked the confidence to move on to greatness! I marched in one college football game and felt so awful knowing I was that one band member that messed up the line. My roommate put me to shame with her drills, so I quit practicing in the dorm room. My clarinet instructor made me feel uneasy, so I quit going to class. And when it came time to audition for the Ball State University Spectacular singers, well, I did make it past the choreography only to freeze on stage when it came to the singing portion of the audition. Needless to say, my college days of majoring in music lasted one term (Ball State ran on quarters instead of semesters).

My passion for music has never ended, though. I can always be found dancing or singing around the house; at the very least, there is music somewhere in my background. My career in music died in college, but my love of music lives on!

Music from the heart

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Music heals

The wives choir organization for America was started last year according to the group that performed on America’s Got Talent. There is also a group in the UK that originally performed for the Royal Family, and has grown into a world-wide organization. It has been as beneficial for the members of the choir as it has for the military community. The group even won the Brit Awards for 2012. The networking these women have built enjoyment and friendship that help them deal with issues they have as a military wife as well as bring enjoyment to others through their music.

USO

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Music for the troops

Active duty troops have also had opportunities with music on several occasions through the USO. Bob Hope was a major contributor in that program; so much that he even has a national salute statue in San Diego, California and was made an honorary veteran by President Clinton in 1997. (Roadside America. 2013). The United Service Organization (USO) has been around since 1941, and Bob Hope performed with that group since the beginning. The USO continues to serve our military men and women through programs such as “Celebrity Handshake” where celebrities visit military hospitals or bases. The USO will even assist a community with hosting certain events in your own community (such as a homecoming, a 5K run, or even a birthday party!).

Benefits of music

There are several studies that proclaim music is beneficial. For example, Baker (2010) identifies both physical and cognitive advantages based on research reviewed in her online article for the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).

  • Music lowers stress
  • Music builds neuron connections
  • Music increases vocabulary
  • Music increases comprehension

Brewer’s article includes a summary of benefits gained from music according to a type of literature review he’s completed. A summary of his information can be described as follows:

  • Positive moods benefit learning success.
  • Negative moods interfere with cognition and behavior.
  • Music can create a positive mood state with potential benefits to learning.
  • Therefore, using music as a mood management tool is an effective classroom management technique

The Mozart Effect

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The Mozart Effect

There have been several studies complete on something called the Mozart Effect. There have even been companies formed on the basis of this research. The Mozart Effect originated with a psychological study conducted by Don Campbell. Campbell (The Mozart Effect, n.d.) proposes that music has a “lifelong effect on health, learning, and behavior” (para. 1). Several other studies seem to support impressive results such as increased spatial-reasoning skills, higher or faster physical performance in rats and other animals. Other studies show that the Mozart Effect does not produce significant differences in a human’s IQ or performance. Still, another study completed by Elpus in 2013 identified that there was a difference in SAT scores. High school students who had taken at least one music class during high school had higher results on the SAT test. However, this study also revealed that this difference also mirrored the student’s socio-economic status.

Marching Bands

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Schools cutting the arts

Here in Indiana, schools were cutting back on classes such as art, music, and even Physical Education. (Watters & Louglin, 2010). Other states are cutting back as well, such as the case in Arizona. (Houck, O. 2010). School budget cuts and financial strain are the culprits in determining whether a music program is cut. Other schools cite the need to increase courses in the math or sciences to meet mandates on standardized tests. Some believe that music education should happen only in the private sector where students enroll with a private music teacher that specializes in an instrument (such as a piano teacher or drum instructor). This isn’t a bad idea, and will work to keep music alive. However, if you were in a band or choir, think about the camaraderie you built with the other members. Today’s workforce requires collaboration, teamwork, and networking to stay alive. Isn’t that something that band and choir can teach where no other class has that capability automatically built in (unless the teacher uses that as a teaching strategy). Emotional Intelligence is measured through a scale called Emotional Quotient (EQ), and this is another major issue that is prevalent in today’s workforce. Recently, I saw a report where the jobs of the future all really needed one essential element – compassion. It would be interesting to see if there is a connection between drama and EQ.

What about you?

If you took a music class in high school, do you think it helped you in any way?

See results

Choir

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Final Thoughts

The jury is still trying to decide whether the Mozart Effect is real, or not real. There could be a relationship between music and intelligence. It could also be a relationship that intelligence actually causes one to listen to Mozart. My own personal theory suggests this - - Does it really matter? Why are we so eager to standardize every possible thing? Why can’t we simply include music (or the arts, or drama, or social clubs) in our educational system simply for the aspect of providing cultural awareness or even for just enjoyment! I fear we have become a nation of absolutes, one that has no time for something that only has an aesthetic value or quality. They have been shown to increase vocabulary and comprehension. Even if that increase is just on musical notation or theory, it is still an increase. I understand budget cuts and financial strain; but there are always ways to include something that is of value. Community and parental involvement can mean the difference when it comes to the arts in our schools.


Music does have the ability to engage the brain - and as the American Military Spouses Club mentioned, it assists in increasing a positive mood and helps overall. I certainly hope you check into your local school system, or maybe even check in with a local choir. See what music can do for your own life!

References

Baker, S. L. (2010, July 30). Music benefits the brain, research reveals.

Brewer, C. (2012). Soundtracks for learning: Using music in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.songsforteaching.com/brewer/music-positive-mood-management.htm

Elpus, K. (2013). Is it the music or is it selection bias? A nationwide analysis of music and non-music students’ SAT scores. Journal of Research in Music Education, 61(175). [DOI: 10.1177/0022429413485601]

Houck, O. (n.d.). Against cutting art and music programs in schools. Retrieved from http://morrisoninstitute.asu.edu/young-stewards-of-public-policy/essays/2009-10-the-voting-problem

Military Wives. (n.d.). Home page. Retrieved from http://www.militarywiveschoirs.org/

Roadside America. (2013). A national salute to Bob Hope and the military. Retrieved from http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/21525

The Mozart Effect. (n.d.). Online store. Retrieved from http://www.mozarteffect.com/OnlineStore/MERCProductd.php?d=7418

USO. (2013). Home page. Retrieved from http://www.usometro.org/

Watters, B., & Louglin, S. (2010, October 30). Schools cut back on art, music, P.E.: Budget cuts lead to limited programs.

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    • DrRebeccaSanders profile image
      Author

      Dr. Rebecca Sanders 4 years ago from Indiana

      That's true! I just hope any school that is thinking about potential cuts to the arts follow in their footsteps.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Music is the universal language. People of all races and cultures understand and relate through the use of music. Taking music away from our schools leaves students floundering with no connection. More schools are discovering ways to keep music alive, even when it is not supported as an academic subject. The use of individual and business sponsorships, booster organizations, and extracurricular activities are becoming more and more common.