Research into the benefits of music education | The Music Trust

Research into the benefits of music education

[PLEASE NOTE:  Information about the new Music Trust Award for Research Demonstrating the Benefits of Music Education can be found on this site under PROJECTS on the menu bar.]

From an international survey of the research, Mandy Stefanakis and Robin Stevens identified these benefits:

  • Music contributes to students’ personal wellbeing through developing self- image, self-confidence, self-esteem, etc.
  •  ‘Music primes the brain for learning’. Musical activity activates and integrates activity across many parts of the brain and this may account for its broad developmental benefits.
  • There is special benefit from beginning to learn a musical instrument as a young child. There is a more pervasive effect on the development of the brain (brain plasticity) than with learning that takes place as an adolescent or adult; however, there is still plasticity in the adult brain. Sustained, structured practice with delineated outcomes enhances this plasticity.
  • Music contributes to students’ cognitive development including abstract thinking, aural and spatial awareness, verbal understanding.
  • Music contributes to students’ kinetic / motor skill development.
  • Although the reasons are not fully understood there is a great deal of evidence to show that there is a correlation between music learning and enhanced abilities in a range of areas:
    • Music contributes to students’ rational thinking — reasoning, critical thinking, logistical thinking and interpretive skills
    • Music contributes to learning in other knowledge and skill areas such as numeracy, literacy
    • Music contributes to students’ concentration, memory, time management.
  • Music contributes to students’ creativity when engaged with composing, arranging, improvising tasks which call upon the individual or group to imagine, plan, organise, experiment with and develop sound in an abstract way
  • Music through performance and creative experiences provides a means for personal expression, communication, and personal, social and cultural identity formation
  • Social cohesion and skills: music connects people through sound, so that there is a sense of physical and emotional camaraderie and shared experience. It is what is most unique about the musical experience. This ‘shared sound’ leads to a greater sense of communication with others, team cooperation and enhances social confidence
  • Music provides the opportunity for aesthetic experiences. An aesthetic knowledge can be described as a deep perceptual understanding in which the senses, the emotions and cognition are combined to make meaning through the experiences of creating, making and interpreting aesthetic forms such as music or paintings.
  • In some circumstances, music programs reduce truancy, increase retention of students, build school spirit and reputation

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