Children Who Study Music Develop Cross-Curricular Skills

Does Music Education Help Students Academically?

Too often, parents and school district administrators view music education much the way they do most arts education—as a supplemental or “optional” subject that helps to make students more well-rounded, but not as an essential component in school curricula. However, studies show that studying music not only supports good intellectual development and mental health, but enhances students’ skills in other “mainstream” subjects. Here’s how music and academic performance are interconnected. 

How Does Music Affect Academic Performance?

The effects of music education on academic achievement have been well documented. Playing music requires using multiple skills at once: reading music notation, watching and interpreting a conductor’s movements, listening to pitches, counting beats in a time signature, coordinating with other players, and producing notes accurately. Doing these things activates parts of the brain associated with learning and performing in other subjects. You can read more about how music develops the brain here

In the process of practicing and performing music, students cultivate abstract reasoning skills, a sharp memory, attentiveness, creative problem-solving abilities, and diligence, all of which are useful in a broad range of academic subjects. Here are some specific areas in which music boosts academic performance:

  • Math. Students who play an instrument perform better in algebra, which is the basis for other forms of high school and college-level math.
  • Reading and language Arts. Studying music improves students’ ability to read, write, use information resources, develop their vocabulary, and edit mistakes. 
  • Study habits. Because music students learn at an early age that they must practice diligently in order to perform well, they become disciplined at practicing (studying) other subjects as well for the same reason.
  • Perseverance. Learning to play an instrument is challenging, but music students learn that hard work pays off as they become more proficient. This lesson applies readily to other challenging subjects and situations as well.
  • SAT scores. Studies show that students who take any arts courses score significantly higher on Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs) than those that don’t.

Contrary to what many may assume, music education provides far more than just the ability to play an instrument or appreciate the fine arts. If you’re a Boston resident interested in reaping the benefits of music education for yourself or your child, visit the Community Music Center of Boston (CMCB) and consider enrolling in a music class today. You can also support the nonprofit organization so that all local residents can enjoy these benefits.