Can you believe that it’s time for school to start? It seems like summer breaks have gotten shorter and shorter. It’s back to the routine of early morning schedules, late night homework, teacher conferences and tutors.
It’s your job as parent to do all that you can to ensure your child’s academic success. Maybe you have searched out the best schools and demanded the best teachers. Yet, as you prepare your child for their first days of school, make sure that you have not overlooked a non-academic program that may ensure their academic success…music lessons. Studies have shown that there is a direct link between music lessons and academic excellence. Academic researchers show that piano lessons, when coupled with a solid education, results in awesome non-musical benefits of enhanced brain function.
The world’s top three nations of academic excellence have mandatory music requirements for their students. Hungary, one of the poorest nations of the world, ranks highest in academic excellence. Every child in Hungary has mandatory music requirements for kindergarten through ninth grade. The first four hours of everyday in Hungary are set aside for music study, orchestra and choir. In the afternoon, when students study math, language, and history, they are able to achieve high academic grades, because their brain has been formatted for orderly storage and retrieval of information.
America spends 29 times more money on education than any other nation, yet ranks 14th out of the top 17 countries in academic excellence. Music has been pulled out of most of American schools as unnecessary spending of tax dollars; and replaced by highly competitive sports and computers. While these two programs may have value and merit, they cannot replace music or it’s benefits. In fact, nothing can. Researchers report that when you play music, a brain function takes place that no other activity can achieve the same results.
Here are some amazing research statistics. Findings indicate that music lessons uniquely enhance higher brain functions required for reading, math, chess, science and engineering. Musicians achieve a higher grade point average (GPA) than non-musicians in the same school do. Music students achieve higher ACT scores and other college entrance exam scores than non-musicians. More musicians are admitted into Med-school than biochemistry majors are…66% of music majors who apply to medical school are accepted, only 44% of biochemistry majors are admitted.
¯ Music training enhances a brain function that dies away. Studies show that early experiences of childhood determine which brain cells (neurons) will connect with other brain cells, and which ones will die away. Because neural connections are responsible for all types of intelligence, studies also show that a child’s brain develops to its full potential only with exposure to the necessary music enriching experiences. If not stimulated during early childhood, these neuron connectors die, and cannot be revived by any activity.
¯ Music training dramatically enhances children’s abstract reasoning skills necessary for math and science. A study with 3 and 4 year-olds indicated that children who received piano/keyboard training performed 34% higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than the non-musical group. These findings indicate that music uniquely enhances higher brain functions required for mathematics, chess, science and engineering.
¯ Music training increases intelligence. Scores on a puzzle task, designed to measure spatial reasoning ability, increased significantly during the period the three and four-year-olds received music lessons. In a research report, ‘Music Increases Intelligence Report,’ Dr Shaw said the piano was the instrument of choice because the keyboard gave the children both a linear and audible representation of the relationship between sounds. "What this means for parents is that they should consider giving their children piano lessons as early as age three or four," said Shaw.
¯ Music training enhances reading skills. A study done with 1st grade children showed significantly higher reading scores with children who received piano/music instruction than with those children not receiving them.
¯ Music enhances learning and creativity. In another research test involving four and five-year olds, the effects of music on learning and creativity was measured. After twenty days of training, the music/dance group showed the greatest improvement. Do you remember how you learned your ABC’s?
Here are some tips:
- Begin early. Begin music lessons when your children are babies or toddlers when their brain is forming. If your child is older, begin lessons as soon as possible.
- The piano is the number one instrument for brain function. While other instruments have some benefit of brain function, the keyboard/piano achieves the highest academic results.
- Keep music a priority. It’s sad to see a child pulled out of music lessons to play ball or to do cheer leading. While sports are great and can enrich a child’s development, will it give them needed benefits when they are seeking college entrance scores or choosing a life’s vocation?
- Encourage your child to practice in the mornings. While this time of day is generally rushed and hectic, studies show that the student who practice the piano before they do their studies, has greater recall and retention.
- For greatest brain function, the practice schedules must be adhered to specifically. However, make sure that you require only what the child is capable of. Being too rigid can cause burn out.
- Find creative ways to reward practice sessions. Then reward, reward, reward.
- Share music with your child. Make it a family event. Praise every accomplishment. Enjoy it! Have fun!
Your student’s life will be different because of your commitment to music. Beyond better grades and developed fine motor skills; we’re talking about richness that money cannot buy…the art and joy of making beautiful music. God created us for that. What better start could you give?
Come on students; let’s make music!