Why Music and Arts Education is Important
Contributed by Shari Black

from 1993-1994
Nobel Peace Conference
in Minneapolis

  1. According to a recent study done by neurologist Frank Wilson, when a musician plays he/she uses approximately 90 percent of the brain. Wilson could find no other activity that uses the brain to this extent.

    Wilson theorizes that more specialized muscle cells are located in the hands and facial area and it takes more brain power to use those cells. What parts of the body is a musician working? Why just these very areas - hands, mouth, eyes and ears. (By the way, no instrument uses more of the brain than another. Thus, a pianist is not more of a musician than a saxophone player.)

    What does all this mean? The child who is playing a musical instrument or singing on a regular basis is exercising the entire brain and stimulating general intelligence more than his/her counterpart who does not play or sing.

  2. Therefore, it's no accident that students who are actively involved in band, choir or orchestra score higher on tests than those who do not, and the longer the child remains in these programs, the higher the scores get.

  3. There is a direct relationship between SAT scores and arts study. According to a study in 1990, SAT scores tend to increase with more years of arts study (music, fine arts, theater, etc.) and the more arts work a high school student takes, the higher his or her SAT scores go.

  4. In Stanford University studies, psychologists found that "learning to control rhythm and tempo in group music-making helps the student perform other routine activities with greater ease and efficiency."

  5. According to research at the University of Southern California, arts instruction has had a significant positive effect on basic language development and reading readiness.

  6. In Japan, every child between fourth and ninth grade is required to play a musical instrument. Why? The Japanese have found a direct correlation between high technology and economic development and brain bilateralism and music.

  7. The Baldwin piano company did a study recently in which they provided keyboards to a school in Greenwood, Mississippi, a rural community with a majority of low-income families. The second graders received keyboard instruction five days a week for a year. The findings surprised both the school officials and Baldwin.

    Ninety percent of the students who participated improved their learning skills 10-12 percent, became more self-disciplined, and improved their overall self esteem.

    Now all Greenwood children in K-3 will receive keyboard instruction on a daily basis and from grade four on students will be able to choose among band, choir, and orchestra, or continue with piano. All will be involved in some kind of structured music program.

  8. Dr. Edwin Gordon's study found that all children are born with a musical aptitude. However, the aptitude decreases after birth until the child is placed in an appropriate musical environment. If this happens before age nine, his/her level of musical aptitude increases until it once again approaches the birth level. However, after nine years of age, the level will only stabilize, not rise again.

  9. According to Dr. Howard Gardner, the standard IQ is obsolete. Our intelligence is not based on two components - verbal and mathematical - but seven: linguistic (verbal), logical (mathematical), music, spatial, body kinesthetic (movement-feeling orientation), interpersonal (understanding others), and interpersonal (understanding oneself).

  10. Besides the fact that music is an intelligence in and of itself, it also uses some of the other six components of intelligence in various ways. Songs are linguistic; rhythm is logical; dance and fingering manipulation on instruments is body kinesthetic; musical interpretation is interpersonal, and the connection between musician and instrument or composer and composition can be interpersonal. Thus in being involved in music, a child becomes in tune with many aspects of the self.