Over the years, school budgets have faced detrimental cuts that have forced schools to eliminate programs that are not necessary in meeting state curriculums. In many instances, one of the first programs removed from schools is music education. While music education is not a requirement in many state curriculums, researchers believe that educators may want to rethink this decision because of the many benefits that learning an instrument can have on the development of a child.
While learning how to play an instrument is a good hobby for children to take on, it can actually have many more positive benefits than simply being an activity. Dr. Nina Kraus, Director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, explains that there is evidence that supports the belief that music education can help students become better learners in a number of tasks.
Furthermore, Dr. Aniruddh Patel, Professor of Psychology at Tufts University, states that learning a musical instrument can enhance the brain’s ability to process the sounds of speech which can play a role in the development of reading abilities, hearing and noise, and memory and attention. This is caused by a biological effect that music can have on the nervous system, as well as the brain. In one study conducted by Dr. Kraus, it showed that trained musicians were better at interpreting emotional sounds which Dr. Kraus explains is due to aspects of music, such as pitch and timing, having a role in speech, too. Dr. Patel supports this evidence by stating that many people who have taken music education have a larger capacity with some verbal and linguistic tasks.
However, in order to cultivate these different developments, it is not enough to just hear music. Dr. Kraus explains that the biological changes found in studies are more prevalent in individuals who actively participated in playing and creating music. Even a minimal amount of music training has been shown to impact brain development. Dr. Kraus states that less than five years of music education still had an impact on many individuals. In order to obtain the most from music, an individual must embark on the task of learning an instrument instead of just listening to it.
- Dr. Nina Kraus, Director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University
- Dr. Aniruddh Patel, Professor of Psychology at Tufts University