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Why Music?

I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.
Albert Einstein

The intrinsic value of music for each individual is widely recognized in the many cultures that make up
American life. The value of music in shaping individual abilities and character are attested in a number of

Secondary s tu dent s w ho pa rti cip ate d i n ban d o r o rc hes tra reported the low est l ifeti me and current u se
of all su bst ance s (alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs). Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report.
Reported in Houston Chronicle, January 1998

The U.S. Department of Education lists the arts as subjects that college-bound middle and junior high
school students should take, stating Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as a valuable
experience that broadens students understanding and appreciation of the world around them. It is also
well know and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to childrens intellectual
development. In addition, one year of Visual and Performing Arts is recommended for college-bound
high school students. Getting Ready for College Early: A Handbook for Parents of Students in the Middle and Junior
High School Years, U.S. Department of Education, 1997

In California, the C SU a nd U C req ui reme nts incl ude a min im um of one yea r of Vi sual or Pe rformin g
Arts for incoming freshmen (www.universityofcalifornia.edu/admissions). See the excerpt below:
College Preparatory Electives
2 years chosen from: Visual and Performing Arts, History, Social Science, English,
Advanced, Laboratory Science, and Foreign Language (a third year in the language used for
the E requirement or two years of another language)
Visual and Performing Arts
1 year chosen from: Dance, Drama/Theater, Music and/or Visual Arts

Skills learned through the discipline of music transfer to study skills, communication skills, and cognitive skills
useful in every part of the curriculum. There are a number of ways that music study is correlated with success
in school:

In an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data on more than 25,000 secondary school students
(National Education Longitudinal Survey), researchers found that stu den ts w ho re port co nsis ten t hi gh
levels of in volve men t i n i nst ru men tal musi c o ver t he m iddle an d hi gh s chool yea rs s how s ignific an tly
hi ghe r le vels of mat hema tics p rofic ienc y by gra de 12. This observation holds regardless of students
socio-economic status, and differences in those who are involved with instrumental music vs. those who
are not is more significant over time. Catterall, James S., Richard Chapleau, and John Iwanaga. Involvement in the Arts
and Human Development: General Involvement and Intensive Involvement in Music and Theater Arts. Los Angeles, CA: The
Imagination Project at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, 1999.

Physician and biologist Lewis Thomas studied the undergraduate majors of medical school applicants. He
found that 66% of m usic m ajo rs w ho a pplie d to me dic a l school we re ad mitt ed, t he hi ghest pe rce nta ge
of any grou p. 44% of biochemistry majors were admitted. As reported in The Case for Music in the Schools, Phi
Delta Kappan, February, 1994

Stu den ts w it h co u rsewo rk/e xperien ce i n mus ic p erfo rm ance an d mus ic a pp rec ia tion sco red hi gher on
the S A T: students in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on
the maththan did students with no arts participation. NELS: 88 First Follow-up, 1990, National Center for
Education Statistics, Washington DC

Data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 showed that musi c p a rtic ip ants recei ve d
more ac ade mic hono rs an d aw a rds t ha n no n-mu sic stu dent s, and that the percentage of music
participants receiving As, As/Bs, and Bs was higher than the percentage of non-participants receiving
those grades. NELS: 88 First Follow-up, 1990, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington DC


Success in school and in society depends on a range of abilities. Recent groundbreaking neurological research
shows how music study can actively contribute to brain development.

A research team exploring the link between music and intelligence reported that mu sic trai nin g is fa r
supe rio r to co mpu te r i nst ruc tion in d ra ma tic ally en han cin g c hil drens abs tract re ason in g s kills, the
skills necessary for learning math and science. Shaw ET. Al., Neurological Research, Vol. 19, February 1997

Researchers at the University of Montreal used various brain imaging techniques to investigate brain

activity during musical tasks and found t ha t si ght -rea din g m usi cal s core s a nd play in g m usi c bo t h
acti va te re gion s i n all fo ur of t he corte xs lobe s; and that parts of the cerebellum are also activated
during those tasks. Sergent, ET. Al., (1992) Distributed neural network underlying musical sight-reading and
keyboard performance. Science, 257, 106-109

Researchers in Leipzig found t hat

b rai n s can s of musi ci ans sho wed la rge r plen um tem poral (a brain
region related to some reading skills) than those of non-musicians. They also found that the musicians
had a thicker corpus callosum (the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the two halves of the brain) than
those of non-musicians Schlang, ET. Al., (1994). In vivo morphometry of interhemispheric asymmetry and
connectivity in musicians. In I. Deliege (Ed.), Proceedings of the 3rd international conference for music perception and
cognition (pp. 417-418). Liege, Belgium

Music is about communication, creativity, and cooperation, and, by studying music in school,
students have the opportunity to build on these skills, enrich their lives, and experience the
world from a new perspective.
Bill Clinton