Why Is Music Education Important In Schools?
India is a land steeped in culture. At every point, music has occupied a prime spot in our tradition. The kings of yore famously made musical instruments of their own, and many were patrons of the arts. Music, poetry and dance have been a part of our lives since the beginning.
Neuropsychologists and linguists at MIT, Harvard and other prominent institutions have all delved into the mysteries of human cognition and language acquisition and have concluded that music helps to develop the cognitive abilities of a child, even before it is born. The ancient custom of wearing glass bangles during pregnancy suddenly makes much more sense in the light of new research.
The musical bangles tinkle all the time, being some of the first musical notes a baby hears. Singing lullabies, and humming songs while putting a baby to sleep, are activities that we have performed for years. These simple things help improve a child’s cerebral cortex, or the ‘thinking’ part of the brain.
If everyday musical notes can influence cognitive development to such an extent, the benefits of music education would be greater than we had imagined, wouldn’t they? Read on to find out about the advantages of music education in school.
According to various studies, music helps with cognitive development. Long-term musical training helps develop neuroplastic processes that help with better understanding. According to this study, even non-musical cognitive abilities stand to benefit from music.
The neural pathways in the brain are activated while learning new tunes, composing music or listening to music.
These pathways help overall brain development and help children develop their faculties in a much more advanced manner than non-musicians.
Linguistic skills - Many educators recognise the influence of music on learning. In his Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner talks about how some learners are musically inclined and gain knowledge of concepts better when they listen to music. Similarly, many language classrooms incorporate music in their lessons. Take poems, for example. Traditionally, poets sang verses instead of reciting them.
Music in the English classroom is a great way to teach rhythm, rhyme and tone. The Broca’s area of the brain processes both music and language; therefore, learning could be more fun and stimulating at the same time when we use music in the language classroom. The ancient tradition of singing folklore to pass stories down generations can be emulated in the present classroom to help musically inclined students to learn better.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics found that children can process complex sentences and tunes together. By increasing the level of complexity, they found that their subjects could gradually improve their understanding of complex sentence structures. This goes on to show that music could be used to help students acquire better linguistic skills.
Mathematical ability - Another area where music tends to help is mathematical ability. Many educators believe that listening to music while working out math problems improves students' ability to understand the problems. Music also calms the mind.
Another study by Dr Robert Mellilo developed a line of music to strengthen different brain spheres. Music is about rhythm, that is, beats per minute and progressions. These are all related to mathematics. Therefore, students who learn music during school are more receptive to mathematical nuances and can perform better in class.
Playing an instrument is all about focus and consistency. Students of music have to practise regularly. They must also tune their instruments, check for wear and tear, and follow the music sheet diligently. A wrong note can change the course of the song. Therefore, musicians are very focused on their art. This focus brings about clarity even when they learn.
There are many instances of students composing rap songs, lyrical ballads about historical conquests that they learn in class, or grammar concepts. The precision they gain when they learn to play a musical instrument helps them perform science experiments easily.
For instance, a student who plays the tabla must focus on using the tips of their fingers and palm pads. If either is not done at the right time, the rhythm of the composition changes and the song ends up sounding offbeat. While a beginner would depend on the music sheet to play the song, a more advanced student focuses on the right speed and rhythm because they have already memorised the composition notes.
Musicians and singers tend to tune out all the external noise when they play, focusing only on their instruments and notes. This kind of focus is especially handy during preparation for examinations.
There are various instances of children remembering the lyrics of songs when they cannot remember a simple science definition or two lines of a poem. Studies at the Max Planck Institute have also established a relationship between learning an instrument and memory. Musicians tend to remember the notes of their compositions. This innate ability to memorise and retain knowledge also comes in handy in the classroom.
Coordination and motor skills
Music education improves coordination, especially between the hands and eyes. Children must read the music sheet while ensuring that their hands hit the right notes on the instruments, whether it is an instrument like the tabla or veena, a guitar or a set of drums. This is especially beneficial for children with difficulty with coordination or those on the ASD spectrum.
Children can improve their soft motor skills by plucking strings, hitting percussion instruments, and creating the right notes on wind instruments. Many children who play the piano have shown superior skills in science laboratories. Children who pick up an instrument early are also quite adept at playing games that require focus, skill and coordination.
While singing as well, children learn to modulate their voices and sing along with the accompanying instruments, learning to coordinate.
In many instances, playing an instrument is not restricted to a solo performance. Usually, children who are musically inclined at school become a part of the choir or band in the school. Many schools have a choir that is also integral to school plays. During rehearsals and performances, these students forge undying bonds and learn to interact with each other.
They also learn to watch for any mishaps during the performance and work together as a team to perform their best. When learning music, students also get to explore various styles and, thus, various cultures. Cultural immersion is a big part of musical education.
Students who have the opportunity to study at famous institutions like the Berkeley School of Music reveal that music education. At the same time, they were young spurred them to learn about different styles and cultures. Interacting with people with similar tastes in music and learning about the history behind certain types of music broadens the students’ horizons.
We have also seen that students with shared interests become each other’s support systems. They help each other through difficult tasks, motivate each other and pep them up for examinations and performances.
They also get to meet people from different walks of life when they go for performances, which helps them build their social skills.
There are various career options for students who pick up a musical instrument early in life. In addition to all the opportunities when children get a good education, people who can play a musical instrument or sing are at an advantage. With social media being what it is and students exploring various opportunities, having an additional skill is an asset. A music career can be rewarding, both financially and professionally.
In addition to all of these, music brings about discipline in students, just as sports do. Where sports help them to stay physically active, music is food for the soul. It is a great way to explore a student’s creativity and a wonderful expression mode.
It also helps them build self-confidence. In many cases of anxiety and anger management issues, therapists suggest that children pick up music as an outlet to help them stay calm and express their feelings.