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12 Benefits of Music Education, from Music and the Brain, How Music Changes the Brain by C.D. Shelton
Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. It is thought brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved in language as well as the corresponding other side of the brain (right side) with musical understanding.
There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced mathematical problems to being able to pack a book bag with everything that will be needed for the day.
Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions, rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. Questions about the arts do not have just one right answer.
Recent studies show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT. They also achieve higher grades in school.
A study of the arts provides children with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic toward the people of other cultures. This development of compassion and empathy, as opposed to development of greed and a “me first” attitude provides a bridge across cultural chasms that lead to respect of other races at an early age.
Students of music learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed to mediocre work.
In music, a mistake is a mistake. The instrument is either in tune or not. The notes are well played or not; the entrance is made or not. It is only by much hard work that a successful performance is possible. Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and concrete rewards of hard work.
Music study enhances teamwork, skill and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously toward a single goal, the performance; and must commit to learning music by attending rehearsals and practicing.
Music provides children with a means of self expression. Self esteem is a by-product of this self expression.
Music study develops skills that are necessary in the work place. It focuses on “doing” as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform, literally, anywhere in the world. Employers are looking for multi-dimensional workers with the sort of flexible and supple intellect that music education helps to create. Orchestra members need to cooperate to create music.
Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks. A little anxiety is a good thing, and something that will occur often in life. Dealing with it early and often makes it less of a problem later. Risk-taking is essential if a child is to fully develop his or her potential. Music contributes to mental health and can help prevent risky behavior.
An arts education exposes children to an incomparable self-confidence building experience.