Music education in the public school system currently faces lots of challenges, such as perceived lack of value, insufficient funds, and shortage of qualified music specialists. However, cutting music programs may have troubling consequences. Youth that practise music (instrumental, theoretical, or choral) frequently experience a range of benefits, including an improvement in academic performance and an enhanced ability to build social skills with peers through heightened emotional and verbal intelligence. These skills complement future academic and vocational endeavours, including post-secondary education.
It may be detrimental to reduce the amount of music education taught to students since music education is associated with many positive outcomes, like improved academic performance and interpersonal skills, which are needed in the future workplace. Dr. Sylvain Moreno is a lead scientist at the Rotman Research Institute who studies brain development through musical training. His research has found that music training can help people develop their memory, attention, and verbal skills, which are all related to educational outcomes. Better memory, ability to focus, and reading and comprehension skills can help students in various subjects, and so music seems to be able to holistically help youth excel in academics.
Music programs not only have been found to help academics, but they also seem to instill the social skills that students need from a young age. Notably, children who were involved in regular music-making activities displayed higher emotional intelligence and empathy compared to their non-musical peers. It could be that musical education promotes cooperation within a group, sharing and working towards a common goal, and monitoring self and others’ progress towards the goal. Holochowst et al. (2017) also found that playing music exercises the ability to listen and comprehend the nuances of speech, which can help people interpret underlying emotions and meaning of others’ speech. Empathy and social awareness is extremely important for life at home, school, and work. Therefore, music courses could work harmoniously with other classes as they teach students both new content and soft skills at school.
Contrary to what many believe, music is not irrelevant later on in life even if students don’t pursue it as a career. Music education brings much more value to students than what is commonly believed since it supports students’ academic performance and interpersonal skills. Additionally, strong music programs can inspire and provide a good foundation for students to pursue music education as a career, where they can pass their knowledge on to the new generation of musicians in a continuous cycle.
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