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The Power of Music

In the words of Anthony Mazzocchi, “Music is one of the most impressive and beautiful

achievements of the human race and deserves a permanent place in education.” Without a doubt,

children are the future and investing in a child's education is a priority. Parent place children into

multiple extracurricular activities to enrich their educational experiences, which often includes

music education. Music classes in school are not only convenient since they take place during

school hours but provide an activity that would benefit every student from positively rewiring

their brain to developing them emotionally. A music education results in developed areas of the

brains that are related to language and reasoning, increased coordination and keeps children

actively engaged in schools. But music programs are often in danger of being cut. If the school

or district loses money, music and art classes are often first to go. While some administrators

realize that music is important, they do not believe that it is fundamental to the school

curriculum. A quality music education is a crucial component of a well-rounded academic

curriculum and should be a permanent factor in education.

According to Mary Luehrisen, an executive director of the National Association of Music

Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, ‘A music-rich experience brings children a very serious benefit

to them as they progress into more formal learning’(Brown). Learning to play a musical

instrument involves more than just moving fingers and reading notes. Small and large muscles

are used in correlation with ears, eyes, and hands. Children have to tap into multiple skills sets,

often simultaneously, to make music. Children come into this world ready to decode and process

sounds and musical education can be used to enhance these skills and others. The left side of the

brain, which is known to be involved with language development, can be strengthened with

music traning. The effects of music on language skills development are especially evident when

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looking at children ages 2 through 9, as language is at its peak of importance. In a study

conducted by Ellen Winner to study the effect of music training on children's brain growth and

on their cognition, children received 15 months of music instruction and practice. The music

lessons resulted in improved sound discrimination and fine motor skills in the children who

received musical instruction as compared to those who did not (Brown). Brain imaging even

showed positive changes in the networks that the brain associated with these necessary tasks.

Other research expands on the basis that music strengthens a child's mind and shows that it

increases their overall capacity to become socially competent (Lewis). These are benefits that all

children should be exposed to and limiting this opportunity will inhibit them from possible

advancements.

Despite the increasing evidence that music education is crucial, music programs are often

last to be added and first to be cut when budgets get smaller. Due to the No Child Left Behind

Act of 2001, many schools that offered rich curriculums, have narrowed down courses such as

science, social studies, and arts. The No Child Left Behind Act is a federal law that authorizes

several education programs, in which states are required to test students in reading and math and

must meet or exceed requirements. In a survey conducted by the Center on Education Policy, it

was found that since the passage of the No Child Left Behind federal law, “71 percent of the

nation's 15,000 school districts had reduced the hours of instructional time spent on history,

music and other subjects to open up more time for reading and math” (Dillon). With the fear of

being punished, for not meeting the benchmark looming in the air, the curriculum focus shifts

onto reading and math, leaving school districts to cut fine arts funding and sometimes

eliminating the programs entirely. While the budget cannot be increased, music programs are left

to the mercy and support of parents and music advocating patrons. Classes such and English and

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math cannot get cut, no matter how ineffective the programs or teachers are, but music programs

often have to prove they are worthy of funding. This is because the values and models for school

have not drastically changed since they were created and consequently in some aspects, have

become outdated. Intelligence is viewed as the scores that adolescents get from standardized

tests, not the overall knowledge gained and understood. The system must be changed to

acknowledge that academic ability and college readiness do not necessarily prepare adolescents

for the real world. When changes are implemented by the school district, often out of it comes an

only new form of testing.

Schools need to use this precious time that is currently available to open up a child’s

creativity, hidden talents and nurture their minds. Nothing is more qualified to achieve these

results than strong music and arts program. People are in the mindset thinking that the “most

useful subjects” and the one that can “get adolescents into college” should be at the top of our

education hierarchy. They do not consider the electives that truly interest children, keeping them

engaged and in school. Not forgetting to mention quality in a musical experience. It takes years

to build an excellent music program but destroying one can be as simple as signing a paper. That

is why it is necessary to educate to convince society and their children the value of a quality

music education. Quality also applies to the musician. Parents who decide to take advantage of

music opportunities are often filled with high hopes of positive results and enroll their children in

classes. Encouraging them to go, they are often ignorant of the fact that an uninterested child

(defined as someone who does not actively engage and participate in class) may not receive all

the benefits that music can offer (Locker). When a child is involved in the active generation and

manipulation of music, the experience can positively rewire their brain (Locker). Research

supports this, as brain imaging (have revealed/ indicated) that the brain of a musician works

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differently than the one of a non-musician. Musicians have larger growth of neural activities in

their corpus callosum, and other regions of the brain, such as the motor cortex and cerebellum.

These regions show some form of adaptation to the strict requirements of performance (Schlaug).

Musicians brains are also found to be larger since playing an instrument requires extensive use of

the brain. Cutting Music when such positive results are evident, should not seem like an option,

but should instead be available to every child in every school.

Based on the research and information, it can be inferred that music makes an impact on

IQ and cognitive performance. “The most highly publicized mental influence of music is the

Mozart effect” as stated in the article Music and Health. Intrigued by the observation that many

musicians have an impressive or increased mathematical ability, researchers at the University of

California decided to test if music actually affects IQ. In 1993 Rauscher conducted a study that

made the claim that after listening to Mozart Sonatas for 10 minutes before being administered a

standardized IQ test, college students had shown increased spatial-reasoning. The researchers

also saw 8 to a 9-point boost in the subjects IQ scores, an effect that was temporary and lasted

10-15 minutes. Deemed the “Mozart Effect” parents began to buy Mozart’s music to be played

for their children. Pregnant mothers were no exception to the trend and they too began listening

to Mozart’s music for the possibility of raising their unborn child's IQ scores. As some later

studies were not able to reproduce the exact results of the original study, these findings became

widely controversial, despite the fact that others were successful. Although it is not clear how

music might enhance cognitive performance, researchers speculate that music fires nerve cells in

the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for higher functions. This serves as a sort of warm-up or

exercise for the brain cells, allowing them to process information more efficiently (Music and

Health). Whether or not listening to music effects cognitive function, playing a musical

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instrument “may enhance the brain's ability to master tasks involving language skills, memory,

and attention.” This has been proven in a study by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of

Toronto at Mississauga. Six-year-old children took voice, keyboard, or drama lessons for a year.

Children who took music or voice lessons had a higher increase in IQ than in the children who

took drama lessons or had no lessons (see figure 1). The scores in the children who took music or

voice lessons increased 3 points-a statistically significant increase. Other benefits of listening to

music that are correlated to IQ include, an increase in spatial and mathematical capabilities,

developed reasoning, and a stronger memory.

Figure 1: Music Lessons Enhance IQ

Because music has played a significant role in every culture and history, music is key to a

well-rounded education. Keeping music in schools allows children and adolescents to become

culturally diverse and pushes them to reach their fullest potential. Music is an essential in that it

provide students joy, a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Not to mention the numerous

other benefits provided by a music education. Starting from an early age and supporting these

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musical programs in schools will only be beneficial. Lyudmila Andrushko, a graduate and

professor from the Musical University of Balti noted that children who are introduced to music at

an early age, tend to be ahead of their peers in terms of their cognitive thinking abilities and

brain development. Children have to listen and work together with their classmates since their

sounds and rhythms combine to create the music piece. Musicians also have common qualities

such as a patient, persistent attitude, and willingness to work hard. Just like sports, children can

develop motor skills. Connecting the mind and the hands, improving their hand-eye

coordination.

Regardless of the clear connections between student success and their studying of the

arts, some still believe that cutting music will have little or no effects on students. Other argue

that music education is unnecessary and a waste of money. Without music, adolescents and

children will lose many important aspects that other activities cannot provide. From the very

beginning, humans have created art even during the worst of circumstances. Art is a powerful

way of expressing yourself and understanding the world around you. Losing music means losing

a musical experience. Music will never be removed completely from a child's life but removing

music education means children will not have the chance for proper guidance, knowledge, and

the encouragement for musical growth. “It is not unusual to hear someone say, “Music saved my

life,” where music steered an adolescent away from drugs, gangs, and apathy” (Catteral).

Experiences like this alone should justify music education in schools. Schools must provide a

place for kids to engage and explore their passions such as music. Those who are deeply engaged

in their passions are happier and more successful than the children that are not engaged.

Countries with stronger educational systems than the United States of America, continually fund

the arts, while The United States have laws that put the arts in second place. Laws such as the

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Common Core state standards and No Child Left Behind Act. Unfortunately, money will always

be an issue and an excuse. States and federal money continue to decrease while the cost of

operating schools rises. Ultimately, programs and other details will have to get cut. A common

claim is that more money should go to sports because they prepare children for the “real world”

better than the arts. Not arguing against the benefits for sports, as neither is better than the other,

but both should be equally prevalent in schools. Nonetheless, if schools do not recognize the

importance of music education, the risk of being cut is heightened. Advocating for an experience

that will enrich children lives, promote cultural awareness, and benefit them mentally could not

be easier to do.

In conclusion, music is essential to a school curriculum because it strengthens

fundamental skill sets, accelerates brain development, particularly in the areas of language

acquisition, increases reading capability and provides a key to a well-rounded school curriculum.

Music also helps foster a positive attitude towards learning and encourages curiosity. In the

words of Walter Elias Disney, “Our greatest natural resource is in the minds of our children” and

schools should strive to cultivate those resources as best they can.

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Works Cited Page

20 Important Benefits of Music In Our Schools.” Bachelor's Degree, 10 Mar. 2011,

www.bachelorsdegree.org/2011/03/10/20-important-benefits-of-music-in-our-schools/

Andrushko, Lyudmila. Phone-Interview. 28 Feb. 2018

Brown, Laura Lewis. “The Benefits of Music Education.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 25

May 2012, www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-benefits-of-music-education/.

Catterall, James S. “The Consequences of Curtailing Music Education.” Tavis Smiley Reports,

PBS, 27 Mar. 2014, www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/tsr/dudamel-conducting-a-life/the-

consequences-of-curtailing-music-education/.

Dillon, Sam.”Schools Cut Back Subjects to Push Reading and Math.”The New york Times.

March 26, 2006, http://helmut.knaust.info/resource/r&m.pdf

Elementary and Secondary Education Act. No Child Left Behind Act. Office of Superintendent

of Public Instruction. January 27, 2011, http://www.k12.wa.us/esea/NCLB.aspx

Goldsmith, Melissa. “Solutions to Cuts in Art & Music Programs in Public Schools.” Seattle Pi,

education.seattlepi.com/solutions-cuts-art-music-programs-public-schools-1814.html

Harvard Health Publishing. “Music and Health.” Harvard Health, Nov. 7AD,

www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/music-and-health.

Jane Standley. Music and the Brain. Wellness and Growth: Acoustic Medicine and Music

Therapy, Steve Mencher, Florida State University, September 22, 2010,

https://www.loc.gov/podcasts/musicandthebrain/transcripts/loc_musicandthebrain_standl

ey.pdf

Locker, Melissa. “Music Can Alter Your Child's Brain.” Time, Time, 16 Dec. 2014,

http://time.com/3634995/study-kids-engaged-music-class-for-benefits-northwestern/

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Mazzocchi, Anthony. “The Truth About Why Music Is Cut From Schools (and What We Can Do

About It).” The Music Parents Guide, 28 Aug. 2015,

www.musicparentsguide.com/2015/08/28/the-truth-about-why-music-is-cut-from-

schools-and-what-we-can-do-about-it/.m/3634995/study-kids-engaged-music-class-for-

benefits-

northwestern/.

Pergola, Joseph. “NEMC Sign Up.” Feb. 2014,www.nemc.com/resources/articles/music-

education-in-crisis_90.

Schlaug, Gottfried. “The Brain of Musicians.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,

Wiley/Blackwell (10.1111), 25 Jan. 2006,

https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2001.tb05739.x

Schellenberg, Glenn. “Music Lesson Enhance IQ.” 1 Aug. 2004,

www.erin.utoronto.ca/~w3psygs/MusicLessons.pdf.

Williams, Yohuru. “Rhythm and Bruise: How Cuts to Music and the Arts Hurt Kids and

Communities.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 17 Sept. 2014,

www.huffingtonpost.com/yohuru-williams/rhythm-and-bruise-how-cut_b_5838406.html.

Wu, Dorothy. “Entrepreneurship in Research: ELLEN WINNER On Why We Need the Arts.”

The MIT Entrepreneurship Review RSS, 6 Mar. 2013,

http://miter.mit.edu/ellen-winner-on-why-we-need-the-arts/

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