How School Music Programs Enhance Child Development and Provide Benefits That Can Last a Lifetime
When it comes time to cut school funds, one of the first programs to go is often music. Yet, researchers believe that the benefits music has on brain development—especially in young children—are crucial.
A study conducted by Dr. Virginia Penhune at Concordia University revealed that between the ages of 6 and 8, musical training positively affects brain development in young children, resulting in long-term benefits in motor abilities and brain structure. Because learning an instrument requires coordination between hands, eyes, and ears, the child benefits from a stronger connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. As a result, listening and communication skills prove to be stronger into adulthood.*
Educators are very aware of the benefits associated with school music programs—especially those with an EdS in Early Childhood Education. An EdS degree, also known as an Education Specialist degree, can be earned online or in a traditional campus setting. It is a post-master’s degree, designed for educators who wish to earn additional credentials and expertise in less time than it takes to earn a doctoral or PhD degree. One of the main benefits of an EdS degree is that your coursework can potentially transfer into a doctoral or PhD degree program later on. Walden University offers an online EdS in Early Childhood Education, which is a great fit for educators who wish to be advocates for important child development initiatives, such as keeping music programs alive in our schools. Specifically, the coursework includes the following topics:
- Evaluating and Supporting Early Childhood Programs
- Child Development in the Critical Early Years
- Meaningful Learning Experiences in Supportive Environments
EdS degree holders—and other professionals who may be qualified to evaluate early childhood programs— would appreciate the National Association for Music Education’s list of reasons why music programs in schools are so important:†
- Musical training helps develop language and reasoning: The left side of the brain is better developed with music, and songs can help imprint information on young minds.
- Memorization skills are strengthened: Student musicians are constantly using their memory to perform. The skill of memorization can serve students well in school and in life.
- Students learn to improve their work: Learning music promotes craftsmanship, and students learn to create good work instead of mediocre work. This desire can be applied to all subjects of study.
- Increased coordination: Students who practice with musical instruments can improve their hand-eye coordination and develop their motor skills.
- A sense of achievement: Students who master even the smallest goal in music will be able to feel proud of their achievement.
- Kids stay engaged in school: An enjoyable subject like music can keep kids interested and engaged in school.
- Success in society: Students in band or orchestra are less likely to abuse substances over their lifetime. Music education can greatly contribute to children’s intellectual development as well.
- Emotional development: Students of music tend to have higher self-esteem and are better at coping with anxiety.
- Students learn pattern recognition: Children can develop their math and pattern-recognition skills with the help of music education—it’s repetition in a fun format.
- Fine-tuned auditory skills: Students who practice music can have better auditory attention and pick out predictable patterns from surrounding noise.
- Music builds imagination and intellectual curiosity: Introducing music in the early childhood years can help foster a positive attitude toward learning and curiosity. Artistic education develops both the brain and a child’s imagination.
- Music can be relaxing: Students can fight stress by learning to play music. Soothing music is especially effective in helping kids relax.
- Musical instruments can teach discipline: Kids who learn to play an instrument have to set time aside to practice and rise to the challenge of learning with discipline to master playing their instrument.
- Creative thinking: Kids who study the arts can learn to think creatively. This kind of education can help them to be better problem solvers.
- Kids can learn teamwork: Many music education programs require teamwork as part of a band or orchestra. In these groups, students will learn how to work together and build camaraderie.
- Responsible risk-taking: Performing a musical piece can bring fear and anxiety. Doing so teaches kids how to take risks and deal with that fear, which will help them become successful and reach their potential.
- Better self-confidence: With encouragement from teachers and parents, students playing a musical instrument can build pride and confidence.
Because school music programs have been linked to improved learning, there are many who believe school music programs could help to close the achievement gap between low-income students and the more affluent students whose families pay for afterschool music lessons.
If you’re interested in an education career where you can contribute to the evaluation of school programs that aid in child development, consider earning an EdS in Early Childhood Education from Walden University.
*Stacey Boyd, Extracurriculars Are Central to Learning, U.S. News & World Report Op-Ed, on the Internet at www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2014/04/28/music-art-and-language-programs-in-schools-have-long-lasting-benefits.
†National Association for Music Education, 20 Important Benefits of Music in Our Schools, on the Internet at www.nafme.org/20-important-benefits-of-music-in-our-schools.
Walden offers both state-approved educator licensure programs as well as programs and courses that do not lead to licensure or endorsements. Prospective students must review their state licensure requirements prior to enrolling. For more information, please refer to www.WaldenU.edu/educlicensure.
Prospective Alabama students: Contact the Teacher Education and Certification Division of the Alabama State Department of Education at 1-334-242-9935 or alabamaachieves.org to verify that these programs qualify for teacher certification, endorsement, and/or salary benefits.
Prospective Washington state students are advised to contact the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction at 1-360-725-6275 or [email protected] to determine whether Walden’s programs in the field of education are approved for teacher certification or endorsements in Washington state. Additionally, teachers are advised to contact their individual school district as to whether this program may qualify for salary advancement.
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