Hello, my name is Balachandar Kesavan, and I’m a student of the Long Valley Middle School. I’d like to thank the Board of Education for allowing me the time to share some of the latest research and national reports illuminating the role that learning to play a musical instrument can have in the education of our children. Music study is not only enriching in its own right but there is mounting evidence that a high-quality music education in school helps young people to develop intellectual capacity, to remain committed to attending school and to do better in later years — whether pursuing music and the arts professionally or in using skills that transfer to other fields.
I’d like to read a quote from Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who just completed his run as chairman of the Education Commission of the States, as well as of the National Governors Association. He prefaced the findings and recommendations of the Governor’s Commission on the Arts in Education with the following statement, which are watchwords in education for the years to come: “ I know both from deep personal experience and from the evidence I have seen in schools that arts education must be a vital part of every child’s education. From improving academic and student achievement to enhancing our nation’s overall economic competitiveness, the arts offer many practical benefits. In fact, I would suggest that the future of our economy is based on establishing a creative class and creating a generation of people who can think artistically. That’s why an arts education has value in and of itself.” The U.S. Department of Education is in full agreement on the need for access to quality music and arts instruction in schools. No Child Left Behind legislation defines the arts as a core academic subject. It is our job, in our community, to uphold the intent of that law, to create access to a quality education that includes music and arts instruction, and to work so all children have the opportunity to learn and grow with music and the arts.
Until recently, our belief that learning music is good for young people was based upon intuitive and historical knowledge and often on personal observations of our lives and those of our sons and daughters. In the last several years, the results of a number of scientific studies are building a solid foundation of evidence that music instruction is not only inherently worthy but that it helps young minds grow and flourish. Music education builds the intellect. Music research explores the relationship between music education and the development of a young person’s cognitive and affective skills. It covers a wide range of topics, from the fascinating way that music-making promotes the growth of neural connections in the brain to music’s role as correlating with math and language learning to evidence that IQ scores rise with increased frequency of music study. New reports are emerging on a regular basis that substantiate our understanding of music’s impact on development. But in order for these benefits to reach children, we have to work together to assure that all children have access to music education. As we review this information together, just ask if you would like a complete list of citations.
It must be said that the opportunity to learn music for its own sake is in itself a sound reason for studying music. But there are additional benefits that seem to be important to us now. Research informs us that music instruction trains the mind in many ways beyond acquiring musical skill and knowledge. Studying an instrument increases spatial-temporal reasoning skills — our ability to visualize in space and time. It’s an important skill in solving math and engineering problems and in understanding fractions and proportions. Music students develop the mental flexibility to think and read ahead while performing a precise task in the present. As students begin to compose and improvise, they learn to consider options in real time and make quick decisions. Since music is a language in its own right, musicians learn to think in pitches, timbres and tempos without the aid of words and sentences. Translating these musical thoughts into the act of playing an instrument introduces young minds to thinking in the abstract. Musicians practice in order to master a piece of music. The discipline and honest self-evaluation required is excellent training for any future activity. All of these skills are necessary for success in the 21st century workplace, and we want to give our kids every opportunity to succeed.
A study published in September 2006 in the scientific journal Brain indicates that young children who received a year of musical training showed brain changes and superior memory when compared with children who did not receive the instruction. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada noted, &quot;It is very interesting that the children taking music lessons improved more over the year on general memory skills that are correlated with nonmusical abilities, such as literacy, verbal memory, visuospatial processing, mathematics and IQ, than did the children not taking lessons.&quot;
In education there is, of course, an ongoing discussion of how intelligence and learning is assessed and what the outcomes mean. Music comes into play here as well. UCLA professor Dr. James Catterall led an analysis of a U.S. Department of Education database used to track more than 25,000 students over a period of ten years. The study showed that students involved in music generally tested higher than those who had no musical involvement. The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the SAT, but also reading-proficiency exams. The study also noted that the musicians scored higher no matter what socioeconomic group was studied. And more recently, a study funded by the NAMM Foundation and published in Psychological Science magazine examined the influence of music education on nonmusical abilities, the effects of music lessons on academic performance and the development of information processing and cognitive abilities. The study revealed that students who participated in music lessons showed statistically higher IQs (intelligence quotients).
The College Entrance Examination Board reports the following: “ Students of the arts continue to outperform their non-arts peers on the SAT. In 2000, SAT takers with coursework/experience in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 41 points higher on the math portion than students with no coursework/experience in the arts.” With an average combined increase of almost 100 points, access to music study could make the difference in gaining admission to a student’s college of choice. This would only add to the effect of the highly successful new implementation, Project Succeed.
When musically trained students get to college, they continue as high achievers, especially music majors. A study of 7,500 university students revealed that music majors scored the highest reading scores among all majors, including English, biology, chemistry and math. Also, physician and biologist Lewis Thomas studied the undergraduate majors of medical school applicants. He found that 66 percent of music majors who applied to medical school were admitted, the highest percentage of any group. By comparison, 44 percent of biochemistry majors were admitted.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed annual concurrent resolutions stating the importance of music education for all children in America’s schools. These important documents note the benefits and importance of school-based music education. One congressman commented that, quote, “In today’s climate of high-stakes testing, it’s important to recognize that skills learned through studying music translate to skills that help students succeed in life. Music education aids critical thinking and more. I believe it imperative that we recognize its importance in the lives of our children and strive to make school-based music education available to all of America’s youth.”
Many studies support similar conclusions — music-making helps the brain develop in many positive ways, and it advances core learning and personal skills for life. With so many studies indicating the relationship of music-making to academic achievement, the case for music instruction is compelling. Many people, including the U.S. Congress, believe that the benefits to children and learning are undeniable. When we consider the challenges that our children will face in the workplace of the new millennium, we need to prepare them adequately. Music must be part of the curriculum. This enlightening information leads us to our statement of belief...
Music education is a core subject, and access to instruction must be secured by education funding and policies — as are reading, science and math. This belief is outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which defines arts education as a core subject. It should be taught to all students in all grades in a sequential program by qualified teachers. Music education is not a frill or an extracurricular activity. And, it must be funded as are all other core academic subjects to assure access to music instruction for all students.
We hope this presentation has brought new information to the attention of the Board of Education, and I ask that you do all you can to support music in our district. It’s our belief that playing a musical instrument can help our children and young people become better thinkers, better communicators and better citizens. We all share a responsibility to the future to assure that our children are prepared to thrive in the demanding environment of the 21st century. I will now show a video entailing various individuals commenting on the importance of music in schools.
(after video) I will leave you with a quote from Richard J. Deasy, director of the Arts Education Partnership in Washington, D.C., and coauthor of a book published by the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2005 regarding the impact of the arts on learning:
“ The challenge to American education has never been simply to raise test scores — that is a relatively recent and limited goal. The challenge has always been to raise citizens who are capable of active participation in the social, cultural, political and economic life of the world’s longest experiment in democracy, an experiment demanding a free, educated and committed citizenry. We are amazed to discover anew the role of the arts in realizing that vision and creating that democracy.” Once again, if anyone would like a full list of citations, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thank you for your time and attention.
What Research Is Telling Us: Music's Effect On Learning and Life
What Research Is Telling Us Music’s Effect on Learning and Life The Long Valley Middle School Students, Parents, and Alumni
Scientific Research Shows MUSIC STUDY Helps Young Minds Develop... <ul><ul><ul><li>Music is a basic building block of intelligence </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Playing music develops critical neural connections </li></ul></ul></ul>
Research Reveals Strong Correlations Between Quality MUSIC EDUCATION in School and... <ul><ul><ul><li>Academic achievement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Healthy social development </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Preparation for the 21st century workplace </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Quality of a young person’s life </li></ul></ul></ul>
Research Reveals: <ul><ul><ul><li>Children taking music lessons improved more over the year on several memory skill tests . . . </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>. . . than did children not taking music lessons. </li></ul></ul></ul>
High School MUSIC-MAKERS’ Test Scores Higher... <ul><ul><ul><li>UCLA tracked 25,000 students over ten years with U.S. Department of Education data </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Music-making students outperformed non-musical peers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Results same for all socioeconomic groups </li></ul></ul></ul>
MUSIC STUDENTS Score Higher on SATs <ul><ul><ul><li>Average 57 points higher in verbal </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Average 41 points higher in math </li></ul></ul></ul>
MUSIC STUDENTS Are High Achievers in College <ul><ul><ul><li>Music majors are better readers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Music majors are the most successful medical school applicants </li></ul></ul></ul>
MUSIC MAKING Develops Students in Many Ways <ul><ul><ul><li>Better math skills </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Better social skills </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>More transferable skills </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Development of lifelong skill — making music </li></ul></ul></ul>
<ul><ul><ul><li>Music is a core subject </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It should be taught to all students </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It should be taught in all grades </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Resurrection of the original state of the band, orchestra, and chorus, and possibly even more. </li></ul></ul></ul>What We Support
<ul><ul><ul><li>Playing a musical instrument can help our young people become better students and better citizens </li></ul></ul></ul>Give Our Children the Advantages of MUSIC
<ul><ul><li>“ The challenge to American education has never been simply to raise test scores — that is a relatively recent and limited goal. The challenge has always been to raise citizens who are capable of active participation in the social, cultural, political and economic life of the world’s longest experiment in democracy, an experiment demanding a free, educated and committed citizenry. We are amazed to discover anew the role of the arts in realizing that vision and creating that democracy.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>-Richard J. Deasy </li></ul></ul>