Learning to Play Music May Improve Language Skills in Kids

It’s always great to hear of new tangible benefits to music education discovered through scientific studies:

a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience…shows for the first time that playing an instrument, and not just listening to music, shows real improvement in the literacy and language function of your child.

Study Finds Learning to Play Music May Improve Language Skills in Kids – NY1

The Roots Are Taking Our Failing Music Education System Into Their Own Hands

“It cultivated us. It educated us,” Questlove said of his high school arts experience. “This is more than just pay it forward or celeb guilt. This is necessary. … It keeps you out of trouble. It helps develop your personality. If you take that away, you’re just a machine.”

And just like that, Questlove easily articulates the true value of music education better than almost anyone I’ve come across.

The Roots Are Taking Our Failing Music Education System Into Their Own Hands – Mic

A Musical Fix for American Schools

Northwestern University neurobiologist Nina Kraus spent two years tracking 44 6-to-9-year-olds in the program and then measured their brain activity. She found a significant increase in the music students’ ability to process sounds, which is key to language, reading and focus in the classroom. Academic results bore that out: While the music students’ reading scores held steady, scores for a control group that didn’t receive lessons declined.

A couple great tangible examples of the exact ways in which music affects the brain.

A Musical Fix for American Schools – WSJ

Music Education For Creativity

Russ Whitehurst, an education policy expert at the Brookings Institution, says he thinks the statistics about music education say something different. He points to a 2010 U.S. Department of Education report that found 94 percent of public elementary schools offer some kind of music classes, even if hours are being cut back in many places … “I think music teachers are crying wolf, largely, if you look at the national trends.”

Amazing. “Some kind of music classes” could mean literally anything. Blowing on a recorder twice a week. Learning an Orff instrument one quarter and not touching it again for an entire year. Just singing for a couple minutes when there’s an opening in homeroom. Students deserve better than “some kind” of music education.

Music Education For Creativity, Not A Tool For Test Scores : NPR

GRAMMY awards honor is just the beginning

The entirety of music education, encapsulated in four sentences:

I’d love to believe we all could make the case based on the intrinsic value we gain as individuals or the increased connections we make. It was reported that after the Columbine shootings, those who participated in the drama program were found to be those who healed and reconnected fastest. For these kids it was the only thing that brought them back from that tragedy. However, the bureaucrats speak in test scores and metrics, and we as arts educators need to wage this battle as well.

GRAMMY Awards honor is just the beginning, according to Lou Spisto | Communities Digital News

What is the most important issue in music education today?

Professors from Florida, Michigan, and others offer their answers to this question with surprising variety. Some I’m on board with:

Due to a lack of state level policy regarding music education, many children have no music teacher in their school building. Although there are rich opportunities for outside of school community music in the United States, many children cannot afford to pay for music instruction outside of the school setting. Citizens interested in making a difference in music education must advocate for a well-prepared, certified music teacher in every school building.

While others have me scratching my head:

The most important issue in music education today is one that has existed for as long as has formal music education: assessment.

What is the most important issue in music education today? | OUPblog.

A Piano for Every Child May Sound Impossible, but in Some Schools It’s Happening

Benefits of Music Education: Why Music and the Brain Provides A Piano for Every Child

Music and the Brain installs 15 to 25 pianos and keyboards in labs in each participating school … Instead of just teaching musical notes to children, Music and the Brain stimulates kids to think, act on that thinking, and become inspired to produce their own sounds. Take the William Tell Overture. In some programs, students may learn to read music and then play the song. With Music and the Brain, students find where notes are repeated, discuss and describe the music and how it felt to them, and create a story to go with the music.

This is good…

“The schools in this country need to go back to where they were in the ’70s when they understood that music education was seminal to children,” Lercari says. “Five-year-olds have so many neurons flying in their brains that they need to use them. The benefit of music is that it makes things connect more easily. Kids are dying to learn and understand, not just music, but they want to grasp this world that they are in.”

… and this is great. Inspiring article on what sounds like a wonderful program.

Punk Rockers Help Raise Money For Music Education

Punk Rockers Help Raise Money For Music Education At Chinatown Elementary School

“She started kindergarten this year and in the first week we got this letter and it said, ‘Can you help us raise $50,000 bucks to pay for our music program?’” … So Wong got his music fundraiser idea. “I love punk rock, and there are all these culture overlapping but they never really contact each other.”

Very cool. Fundraising opportunities are out there, you just have to find, or create, them.

Judy Guenseth: Music pays big dividends for kids

Judy Guenseth: Music pays big dividends for kids

Our community does a good job of providing opportunities to listen to great choral and instrumental music including providing free opportunities to students. Let’s do more in the area of promoting early childhood music experiences and finding affordable ways of providing early musical education for all children. It is an enrichment that plays big dividends. Hans Christian Anderson said it well, “Where words fail, music speaks.”

As far as legitimate reasons for getting kids involved in music go, Ms. Guenseth steps foot onto somewhat shaky ground. But I can’t argue with this conclusion.

Welcome

Welcome to my blog! This site serves as a collection of the cool (and sometimes not so cool) things happening throughout our country in music, education, and music education. As of now my goal with this is not to advance my own ideas or projects, but rather to simply share the sights, sounds, and stories that make up the current state of music in America. Please feel free to submit your own thoughts or questions to thomas@tpflynn.com, and thanks for reading!