Music Education Research Paper


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Music Education Research Paper

  1. 1. Ferrell 1Brandon FerrellMrs. TilleryAP Literature15 November 2011 Music Education “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’srevelation about the universality of music applies even today in the education system ofAmerica. Over the last several years, funding for music education and even fine arts programs ingeneral has been decreasing among public school systems, on the basis that more money shouldbe spent teaching students academically applicable subjects in order to pass standardized tests.However, in a study by Amy Graziano, 237 second-grade children involved with both pianokeyboard training and innovative math software scored27% higher on proportional math andfractions tests than students only using the math software. There is a direct correlation betweenstudents’ involvement with music and their academic capabilities. For this reason, the increasinglack of funding for music education is a problem, and the importance of music and other arts inpublic schools should be made known to officials and the problem corrected. Generally, elementary schools have a required course in music. However, the once-standard instructional time for music of 20-30 minutes per day has been reduced in most schoolsto the same amount of time on a weekly schedule. This minute time in which music teachers areavailable to a class drastically reduces their effective ability to teach music material.Notwithstanding the reductions in their ability to teach, elementary school music educators arestill expected to produce the same results with students and some objectives have in fact beenadded. The primarylogic behind budget cuts in the fine arts department in elementary schools has
  2. 2. Ferrell 2been a focus on higher test scores in core academic subjects such as math and science. This logicis flawed though, because the correlation between early childhood exposure to music andscholastic prowess has been proven and accepted for a substantial time. Research by the PerryEarly Childhood Education Program has concluded that “music competencies achieved frombirth to age five assist students in later school experience (Colwell 1721).” Even into elementaryyears, music education has been proven by people such as Amy Graziano to improve cognitiveability in abstract fields such as math. With this in mind, the continuous budget cuts and layoffswithin the fine arts departments of public school systems is unjustifiable and illogical. If schoolsystems were able to hire better-educated music instructors and actually devote classroom timeto teaching music, then results would be substantial and undeniable. Aside from individual musicinstruction, playing music within a group can have significant effects for students in academiccourses. Being part of an ensemble with lofty standards teaches students cooperative learning,responsibility, time management, character, and other valuable attributes. The magnitude ofthese alternate goals does not require the forfeit of distinctive musical objectives; however, theesteem of school officials and board members is essential for long-term goals. Music is alsoimportant elsewhere, such as within special education programs. The universality and nonverbalnature of music provides special needs students, specifically those learning English as a secondlanguage, with the opportunity to participate in many musical experiences, resulting ineducational benefit as well as happiness. A large problem educational systems face when prioritizing funding is the inability to“measure” the effectiveness of music educators, whereas teachers in academic courses such asmath and language arts can give definite test scores to show results. Addressing the progress of a
  3. 3. Ferrell 3music program is a slightly more inexact process, yet there are bountiful measures ofmusicianship both within a group and on an individual level. The Georgia Music EducatorsAssociation (GMEA) hosts a week of festival called LGPE, or Large Group PerformanceEvaluation. Band programs across the state perform their selected works in front of experiencedjudges and are graded based on musicality, accuracy, and other areas. There is also a sight-reading portion where the group is handed a piece of music they have never seen before and isgraded on their ability to accurately read and play the literature. Additionally, GMEA hostsDistrict- and All-State band auditions, where individual students perform a standard etude and aset of major scales fundamental to all musicians. Students are invited to be a part of the All-StateBand comprised of the highest-scoring auditions. Results of these evaluations are perfectmarkers for the advancement of ensembles and individuals. If administrators and board directorswould look to these ratings for test scores, there would be much more interest in theadvancement and musical education of students. In addition to the academic benefits of music and music education, involvement withmusic prepares students and young adults to be productive members of a working society. Thesame team building skills developed with music that help in a school environment will make anyand every student involved with music more useful as an employee. Musiciansacquirecraftsmanship skills as they learn how details are painstakingly put together and what amounts togood, instead of mediocre, work. These values, when pertaining to a musician’s own work,require a heighteneddegree of superiority and necessitate that students stretch their innerresources. Music performance also inspires students to conquer fear and take risks. Stageperformance increases confidence and aptitude for public speaking, a skill imperative in almostany job that requires teamwork. Additionally, it forms musicians into goal-oriented people. The
  4. 4. Ferrell 4pressure and prospective reward of having a fantastic performance drives musicians to practiceand work hard, and dedicates them to getting a job well done for the sake of their personalsatisfaction and growth as well as the rest of an ensemble. Furthermore, being part of anensemble teaches the importance of punctuality as music groups often schedule and reschedulerehearsals, making time management an extremely important skill. Music education also hasbenefits on an emotional scale. Music provides children with a means of self-expression. In an unforgiving and oftenvicious world, every student needs an outlet to vent the frustrations of life. In the words of anunknown author, “music is what feelings sound like.” Music helps people to discover who theyare, and is an outlet for the deepest and most sincere thoughts and feelings that cannot even beentrusted to a sheet of paper in a journal. Moreover, music provides common ground betweenanyone and everyone. “With so many forces in this world acting to drive wedges betweenpeople, its important to preserve those things that help us experience our common humanity,”according to Ted Turner. Because of the emotional and social rewards of music, a greater stressshould be put upon making music more appealing to all students. Music education opens doorsthat help children pass from school into the world around them a world of work, culture,intellectual activity, and human involvement. Music can also be beneficial to one’s health. Music therapy is one of the most widely used and most applicable forms of treatment. Itcan be effective for everything from improving the well being of geriatric patients in nursinghomes to lowering the stress level and pain of women in labor. Social, physical, emotional, andintellectual challenges are all treatable and can be overcome with the aid of music therapy. Musicis not only for the sick and needy, though- healthy people can use music to relax, reduce stress,exercise, or improve their mood. Music therapy is virtually the only treatment with zero
  5. 5. Ferrell 5potentially harmful or toxic side effects. Through music therapy, patients are aided with goalssuch as improvement in communication, motor skills, and behavioral issues. What makes musictherapy so effective is its multi-functionality. On a physical level, brain function changes inresponse to music. Breathing patterns, heart rate, and blood pressure are all responsive to musicand auditory stimulus (Turner 2270). Muscle tension can also be relieved through music, abenefit often employed in physical rehabilitation centers. Music naturally increases endorphinlevels, which calms the listener and reduces stress- partially explaining the ability of music toimprove the immune system. Music also affects people on a mental level, significantlyincreasing mental acuity. A college study showing that students performed better on mathproblems while listening to classical music coined this tendency as the “Mozart effect.”Furthermore, music’s capability to influence emotions is widely known and extensively used bymovie directors. The nonverbal nature of music makes it a very valuable therapeutic tool,because it can both inspire emotions and express them. An especially effective case is with theterminally ill. Pain, anxiety, and depression are major concerns with these patients, and musiccan alleviate some of the pain through release of endorphins and promotion of relaxation (Swain1900). Music calms patients to the point where they are able to talk about fears associate withdeath and dying and thus helps them to overcome them. The wide range of effectiveness formusic therapy is a perfect example of why music should be more prominent among public schoolsystems because although the general population of students is not terminally ill, every studentsuffers from some ailment from time to time and music can substantially alleviate suchproblems. A major bonus of music therapy is that it does not necessarily have to be in an office-portable music players have made the mobility of music limitless.
  6. 6. Ferrell 6 In conclusion, the benefits of music have become undeniable in today’s society. Testscores upon test scores have shown with definitive truth that music is scholastically beneficialand should play a larger role in education today. The lack of funding that this field faces is aserious problem, but the possibilities within music are endless. Music is engrained in the being ofevery human and will continue to provide academic support, personal growth, and workreadiness. It is the job not only of education directors, but also of society, to contribute to thesuccess of music programs within public school for the benefit and advancement of today’ssociety.
  7. 7. Ferrell 7 Works CitedCampbell, Don. The Mozart Effect. Avon Books, 1997.Cassileth, Barrie. The Alternative Medicine Handbook. W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1998.Chamberlin, Stacey L. "Melodic Intonation Therapy." The Gale Encyclopedia of Neurological Disorders. Ed. Stacey L. Chamberlin and Brigham Narins. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2005. 517-519. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.Colwell, Richard, and Carlos Xavier Rodriguez. "Music Education." Encyclopedia of Education. Ed. James W. Guthrie. 2nd ed. Vol. 5. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2002. 1718-1726. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.Cox, Gordon. "Music Education." Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood: In History and Society. Ed. Paula S. Fass. Vol. 2. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. 610-611. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.Music Advocacy." Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association. MSBOA, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. < musicadvocacy/>."Music Advocacys Top Ten for Directors." Music Advocacy. Selmer Company, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2011."Scientific Research Reveals Reasons to Play Music." NAMM Foundation. NAMM, 2010. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. < scientific-research-reveals-reasons-play-music>.Swain, Liz. "Sound Therapy." The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Ed. Jacqueline L. Longe. 2nd ed. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale, 2005. 1899-1902. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.
  8. 8. Ferrell 8Turner, Judith. "Music Therapy." The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Ed. Deirdre S. Blanchfield and Jacqueline L. Longe. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 2002. 2269-2271. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.
  9. 9. Ferrell 9 Turnitin ReceiptPaper ID:215517185Paper Title:Music Education Research PaperAssignment Title:Senior Project Research PaperAuthor:brandon ferrellE-mail: