This past summer (2013), the Toronto District School Board voted to cut $2 million from their budget to help alleviate their overwhelming debt. On the chopping block: music classes from across the city, joining an increasing majority of schools in Ontario. In fact, the nonprofit organization People for Education has found a 16 percent drop in elementary music classes over the last 14 years. Approximately 33% of children in Ontario do not get the chance to play a musical instrument or join a music group.
Music lessons were the last thing that should have been cut from the budget, considering overwhelming evidence for the benefits to development, cognition, education, and academic performance. The very thing that the school board should want to protect while making deep budget cuts – quality of education – has been shortsightedly slashed and students across Toronto will lose. some of the following benefits of music programs.
Benfits of Music Lessons
In 2004, The University of Toronto at Mississauga conducted a study that demonstrated a three-point average increase in the IQ score of children who were given music lessons. In contrast, this increase was not present over the same period of time in the group that received drama instead of music, nor the group that received nothing.
Better Academic Performance
Arguably (very arguably) kids with higher IQs do not necessarily perform better academically. However, comparing students in low-quality music programs to high-quality music programs demonstrated that, regardless of socioeconomic factors or school districts, students in high-quality music programs scored higher on standardized tests – 20% higher in Math and 22% higher in English. standardized tests. Other studies have noted music’s influence on higher graduation rates, sharper memory skills, left-right brain harmony, enhanced ability to learn across multiple subjects, especially math, reading, and language, and advanced cognitive development.How are gains like these made? Quality music lessons lead to higher concentration levels help bring down the incidence of ADHD in the classroom and improve student performance. Basic memory recall, particularly through auditory learning, which fits nicely with the millions of teachers who you know, lecture. Needless to say, the music education helps enhances test performance again.
Increased Brain Function
Children in music lessons have increased neural activity. Perhaps because scans demonstrate that playing music involves activity in nearly all of the cerebral cortex and neural networks associated with fine motor tasks and sound discrimination. Simply – adequate music programs increase the capacity of the brain, and not just for musical gains.
Social & Behavioral Improvements
Kids who are involved in music lessons have notably better attention spans than their non-musical counterpart. Music is also linked to higher emotional maturity and higher self-confidence levels. Even better, they possess a higher level of empathy and greater ability to work as a team. Each of these factors are linked to behavioral problems in school, such as acting out in the classroom and bullying. Instead of cutting money from music programs and invariably increasing the costs of necessary to address these gaps, we should be spending this money on positive measures that will have lifelong effects.
The situation is less than ideal for our children. Music lessons in schools allow students some of the greatest gains over other perceived non-essential extracurricular activities. In fact, music should not be extracurricular. It should be part of the basic curriculum with benefits like these. Nonetheless, The Toronto District School Board has cut music funding and could easily do it again. When we all understand the vitally beneficial role of music lessons in Toronto schools, our children will get the best education possible and go on to be highly competitive in the global market.
Here’s some creative ways to bring music to students everyday in school!
Hammer, K. Music classes taking a beating in Ontario schools: report., The Globe and Mail.
Brown, L.L. The Benefits of Music Education, PBS.org
The Benefits of Music Education. VH1 Save the Music Foundation
The Importance of Music Education. VH1 Save the Music Foundation