I think all of us who are musicians already know the benefits music provides to students beyond those which are strictly musical, but this study was compelling because it showed not only that some music study is beneficial, but that higher QUALITY music education produces even better academic test scores.
Study Finds Link Between Quality Music Programs, Test Scores
A recent study found that students in high-quality school music education programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs.
The study, which was published in the Winter 2006 issue of MENC’s Journal for Research in Music Education, is the first to examine the quality of school music programs as a factor affecting test scores, apart from the socioeconomic level of the school or school district.
The study was funded by the NAMM Foundation under its “Sounds of Learning” initiative.
The study comprised 4,739 elementary and middle school students in four regions of the United States and revealed a strong relationship between elementary (third-or fourth-grade) and middle school (eighth- or ninth-grade) students’ academic achievement and their participation in school music programs that differed based on quality.
On the elementary level, it found that students in top-quality music programs scored 22 percent better in English and 20 percent better in mathematics than students in deficient music programs.
Middle school students in top-quality instrumental programs scored 17 percent higher in mathematics than children who did not participate in music, and 33 percent higher in mathematics than students in a deficient choral program.
MENC member Christopher Johnson was lead study investigator. He is a professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. He said, “It is crucial to note that this project has revealed a relationship between quality music instruction and heightened academic performance.”
NAMM Sounds of Learning Study Reveals Strong Relationship Between Quality Music Education Programs and Higher Standardized Test Scores
Among the elementary school results:
Students in top-quality music programs scored 22 percent better in English and 20 percent better in mathematics than students in deficient music programs.
These academic differences were fairly consistent across geographic regions.
Students at the four elementary schools with high-quality music programs scored better than students participating in programs considered to be of lower quality.
Among the middle school results:
Students in top-quality instrumental programs scored 19 percent higher in English than students in schools without a music program, and 32 percent higher in English than students in a deficient choral program.
Students in top-quality instrumental programs scored 17 percent higher in mathematics than children in schools without a music program, and 33 percent higher in mathematics than students in a deficient choral program.
Students at schools with excellent music programs had higher English test scores across the country than students in schools with low-quality music programs; this was also true when considering mathematics.
Students in all regions with lower-quality instrumental programs scored higher in English and mathematics than students who had no music at all.
Students who participated in low-quality choral programs generally scored the lowest.