Studies show music and music education can have a profound impact on mental and physical health for
students of ALL ages. Music and Wellness is one of the fastest growing areas of music education.
What You Should Know:
- Kids are ready to begin making music even earlier than you may think. Plus, there are benefits to just listening. Hearing music stimulates the mind, improves the mood and brings people together.
- A study at the University of California at Irvine demonstrated that young kids who participated in music instruction showed dramatic enhancements in abstract reasoning skills. In fact, researchers have found neural firing patterns that suggest that music may hold the key to higher brain function.
- Research at McGill University in Montreal, Canada showed that grade-school kids who took music lessons scored higher on tests of general and spatial cognitive development, the abilities that form the basis for performance in math and engineering.
- Kids who make music have been shown to get along better with classmates and have fewer discipline problems. More of them get into their preferred colleges, too.
- Playing a musical instrument strengthens eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills, and kids who study an instrument learn a lot about discipline, dedication and the rewards of hard work.
- Just listening to music can fill a home with joy and add an extra dimension to kids' lives. People who make their own music enjoy these benefits many times over.
What You Can Do:
- Make music a part of your home.
- Expose your children to different types of music. Go to musical events, listen to the radio, enjoy musical performances on television, play CDs — there are lots of ways to explore the world of music.
- Make music as a family. Maybe you're an accomplished musician with a gift to pass on to your kids; or maybe you can pass a rainy day making your own instruments out of coffee cans, broomsticks or water glasses. It's fun either way.
- Encourage and support your children when they become interested in playing an instrument.
- If you are a musician in your own right, be a model for your children. If you're not, you can learn together!
You know arts education teaches creativity, but did you know it also teaches valuable life skills like problem-solving, focus, perseverance, and more? Check out the Top 10 Skills Children Learn for the Arts (Washington Post article via Americans for the Arts)
A study at Northwestern University showed in adults with music experience had "more robust" brain stem response, which improves memory, listening, reading, and more; plus more benefits of music. Music lessons and kids: power from lesson one
Music makes you high! A study published in Evolutionary Psychology found performing music releases endorphins producing a natural high and feeling of well-being.
Study: Performing Music Gets Us High
A research project at the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health shows the health value of singing for those age 60 and older. Study into benefits of singing proves positive impact on health
Reading music uses the whole brain, and learning music has numerous wonderful effects on children, improving development, reducing peer pressure, and much more. The Positive Effect of Music Literacy in a Child's Life.
Infants who participated in music classes through a study at McMaster University showed better social and communication skills and brain response to music. Babies' Brains Benefit from Music Lessons, Even Before They Can Walk and Talk.
Music has emotional, physical, and mental benefits for persons of all ages, from premature babies to cancer patients to those suffering from dementia. Music Please, Nurse?
Participating in group music programs teaches kids the ability to empathize, according to a University of Cambridge study. Making Music Together Increases Kids’ Empathy
A new study at York University shows music education improves children's verbal abilities. Music Training Enhances Children's Verbal Intelligence
Music education can help children in learning to read. Music Improves Phonological and Phonemic Awareness
Adult musicians were 40 percent better at hearing a conversation in a crowd during a study at Northwestern University. How Music May Help Ward Off Hearing Loss as We Age
A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry shows Music therapy can benefit depression patients.
Scientific American concludes
music produces profound and lasting changes in the brain. Hearing the Music, Honing the Mind
A study at Northwestern University shows that music improves brain fitness. Taking Music Seriously by
Pat Vaughan Tremmel
Music: As good as a massage? Stressed? Take Those Old Records off the Shelf by RealAge
Music keeps kids in school and off drugs. Dosomething.org rounded up 11 Facts about Music Education that reflect mental, emotional, and physical benefits for students of all ages.
Musicians: Better at Math and Science
Second-grade and third-grade students were taught fractions in an untraditional manner — by teaching them basic music rhythm notation. The group was taught about the relationships between eighth, quarter, half and whole notes. Their peers received traditional fraction instruction. When tested, the students who were exposed to the music-based lessons scored a full 100 percent higher on fractions tests than those who learned in the conventional manner. One of the researchers, Dr. Frances Rauscher, said, “It has been clearly documented that young students have difficulty understanding the concepts of proportion (heavily based in math and science) and that no successful program has been developed to teach these concepts in the school system.”
Reference: Neurological Research, March 15, 1999
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. Physician and biologist Lewis Thomas studied the undergraduate majors of medical school applicants. He found that 66 percent of music majors who applied to med school were admitted, the highest percentage of any group. Forty-four percent of biochemistry majors were admitted.
References: “The Comparative Academic Abilities of Students in Education and in Other Areas of a Multi-focus University,” Peter H. Wood, ERIC Document No. ED327480 “The Case for Music in the Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan, February, 1994
Better at Language Arts
In a 2000 University of Sarasota Study, Jeffrey Lynn Kluball explored the relationship of instrumental music instruction and academic achievement for the senior class in Lee County High School, Leesburg, Georgia. Significant correlations were found between the number of years of band instruction and academic achievement as measured by the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT) Mathematics and GHSGT Science tests. An East Texas State University study by Daryl Erick Trent revealed that high school seniors who participated in instrumental music in grades 6-12 score significantly higher in language arts and math on standardized tests than do students involved in non-music extra-curricular activities or students not involved in any school related extracurricular activity.
U of S study by Jeffrey Lynn Kluball, 2000; ETSU study by Daryl Erick Trent
Better on SATs
The College Entrance Examination Board reports, “Students of the arts continue to outperform their non-arts peers on the SAT®. In 2001, 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.” Longer arts study proved to parlay into even higher test scores. The 1996 report observed, “Those who studied the arts four or more years scored 59 points higher and 41 points higher on the verbal and math portions respectively than students with no coursework or experience in the arts.”
Reference: Profile of SAT and Achievement Test Takers, The College Board, compiled by Music Educators National Conference, 2001, 1996.
Preschoolers were divided into three groups: one group received private piano lessons and singing lessons. A second group received private computer lessons. The third group received no training. Those children who received piano/keyboard training performed 34% higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than the others — even those who received computer training. “Spatial-temporal” is basically proportional reasoning — ratios, fractions, proportions and thinking in space and time. This concept has long been considered a major obstacle in the teaching of elementary math and science.
Reference: Neurological Research February 28, 1997
How do early sensory and motor development influence later cognitive, perception and language skills? That was the question asked by Debby Mitchell at the University of Central Florida in her study, “The Relationship between Rhythmic Competency and Academic Performance in First Grade Children.” The study explored the cognitive-motor link, and how sensory and motor development may influence later cognitive, perception and language skills. Findings showed that there was a significant difference in the academic achievement levels of students classified according to rhythmic competency. Students who were achieving at academic expectation scored high on all rhythmic tasks, while many of those who scored lower on the rhythmic test achieved below academic expectation. The study concludes that the large percentage of children who are achieving below academic expectation are lacking in foundation skills that should have been developed prior to entering school.
The U.S. Department of Education lists the arts as subjects that college-bound middle and junior high school students should take, stating, "Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as a valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them. It is also well known and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to children’s intellectual development." In addition, one year of Visual and Performing Arts is recommended for college-bound high school students. — Getting Ready for College Early: A Handbook for Parents of Students in the Middle and Junior High School Years, U.S. Department of Education, 1997
The College Board identifies the arts as one of the six basic academic subject areas students should study in order to succeed in college. — Academic Preparation for College: What Students Need to Know and Be Able to Do, 1983 [still in use], The College Board, New York
According to a study conducted at the University of Texas, college-aged music students have fewer problems with alcohol, are emotionally healthier, and concentrate better than their non-musical counterparts. “This study is interesting on many levels,” commented Dr. Kris Chesky, one of the study’s researchers. “First of all, it flies in the face of all the stereotypes out there about musicians. It also seems to support the assertion that studying music helps people learn to concentrate.” The study looked at 362 students who were in their first semester of college. They were given three tests, measuring performance anxiety, emotional concerns and alcohol-related problems. In addition to having fewer battles with the bottle, researchers also noted that the musicians seemed to have surer footing when facing tests.
Reference: Houston Chronicle, January 11, 1998
Far too often adults don’t take up music because they are under the mistaken belief that they are “too old to learn to play an instrument.” Writing in MuSICA, Research Notes, Dr. Norman M. Weinberger, Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, University of California at Irvine, is quick to point out that it is “never too late” for music. He goes on to say, “It is an established fact that the adult brain is perfectly capable of learning and remembering music throughout life span.” The capacity to learn music remains viable throughout life and often remains strong through the seventh, eighth and ninth decades.
Scientists are now saying that creativity, such as music making, may play an important role in healthy aging.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, May 10, 2004, 1G.
The 1999 NAMM-funded Music Making and Wellness project found that seniors who participated in group music lessons reported significantly decreased feelings of depression, anxiety and loneliness.
Winter Haven Hospital Program Helps Seniors Derive More Worth From their Golden Years Two days a week Winter Haven Hospital provides meditation and reflection classes, yoga, journaling, and even dream analysis among other seminars as a part of their Sage-ing Program. Chuck Warren began this program after he heard about the Sage-ing Program from a stranger at a dinner party. The Sage-ing Program, started by Rabbi Zalman Scachter-Shalomi, gives inspiration to help people with aging. The program aims at using creativity as a tool to heal. “In the Sage-ing Curriculum classes, we focus on talking about opening up a person’s inner wisdom. This inner wisdom can be developed over time in a person’s life. It’s something to be valued through a variety of life experiences,” said Warren. NewsChief.com, August 16, 2008
Jump Cut: The Power of Art for an Aging Population Many healthcare facilities have found that creating art as well as going to art museums can help people with Alzheimer’s Disease. Art and music are useful tools for people with dementia because it engages the part of the brain that is not affected by those diseases. “Certainly it’s not just a visual experience; it’s an emotional one. I have often seen quite demented patients recognize and respond vividly to paintings and delight in painting at a time went they are scarcely responsive to words and disoriented and out of it. I think that recognition of visual art can be very deep,” said Oliver Sacks, a neurologist. BurlingtonFreePress.com, August 7, 2008 http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080807/LIVING/808070309/1004
Seniors Find New Ways of Expression Through Art Karin Livingood, 70, has been able to explore her creative side after retiring as an art therapist. Her work bringing art to people with mental and physical disorders has shown her that people who have never done art before can use it as an expressive tool. Vanessa Frank, Evergreen program specialist said, “When you’re living communally in a nursing home, a lot of residents may not express their fears, their dislikes; sometimes they don’t feel they can express their anger. They can truly express themselves in art work.” TheNorthwestern.com, August 6, 2008 http://www.thenorthwestern.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080806/OSH04/80805071
Creative Expression Uses Art Therapy Caring for a loved one can be stressful, which is why this Area Agency on Aging has introduced Creative Expressions, a program which provides art to caregivers. Members are encouraged to use any medium they choose including watercolor, music, and collage, to express their feelings. The group helps members release stress, find their inner artist, and even make friends. “It’s an opportunity to explore one’s feelings and utilize a variety of alternate tools to do that rather than using traditional verbal expressions. I hope that we can help caregivers feel good about themselves, what they’re doing and who they are. Art is a powerful tool to do all of that,” said Linda Morgan, who assists in Creative Expressions. Yourwestvalley.com, July 22, 2008 http://www.yourwestvalley.com/news/art_3150___article.html/group_expressions.html
Therapist Uses Movement to Help Frail Seniors Heal Dance therapist Naomi Arad provides ethnic dancing, knitting and drama movement to help people become more aware of their body. Most of her clients are unable to do intense physical movement, so Arad uses breathing and small movement techniques, often times with a paintbrush or crayon in hand, to help her clients become more self-aware. Arad said, “Dance therapy is so effective because it accesses that core part of human life. You don’t need music or anything else; you just need yourself. It can also provide a ‘back door’ to the emotions.” NJJN.com, August 7, 2008 http://www.njjewishnews.com/njjn.com/080708/cjTherapistUsesMovement.html
Medicinal Music Brain Music Therapy (BMT) was originally created for insomniacs, but is now being used by people with depression, addiction, Attention Deficit Disorder, and even cancer. BMT creates a musical soundtrack aimed at relaxing your mind using your own brain waves. The digital program translates your brain frequencies into music which can help a person relax and sleep at night. Stillerman, who has breast cancer, had immense trouble sleeping because of her medication and chemotherapy. Since using BMT she said, “I’ve had a couple of experiences where I woke up the next day and I literally didn’t know what day it was or where I was, not in a bad way; I just had been so deeply asleep, I was a little disoriented when I woke up.” American Public Media, August 2, 2008 http://weekendamerica.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/08/02/brain_music/
No Matter Your Age: Music's Outstanding Benefits to Your Health: Seven Reasons to Listen to Some Music Now
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