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Should Every Student Play an Instrument? What MSEd Students Should Know About Music and the Brain

Playing an instrument could have an impact on student performance.

If you’re considering enrolling in a master’s in education program, you’re committed to finding the best ways to educate and motivate your students. You’ve no doubt thought about what it takes to get students to perform at their absolute best—asking yourself, what teaching strategies might be employed to help them succeed? Well, here’s a thought: What about music? More specifically, what about playing a musical instrument? Might that activity affect the brain in a way that actually enhances learning?

There’s new research to suggest that might be the case. Whether you’re studying for your teaching degree or ready to move on to your master’s degree in education, the findings on music and learning are worth considering. The research shows that playing an instrument engages the right and left sides of the brain simultaneously. As the chair of Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania put it: “Recent studies suggest that music may be a uniquely good form of exercising your brain.”1

Should Every Student Play an Instrument? What MSEd Students Should Know About Music and the Brain

Other research efforts have led to similar conclusions. Scientists monitored subjects in real time using positron emission tomography, or PET, scanners and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machines. They noticed increased brain activity when the subjects read or did math, but saw “fireworks” when the subjects listened to music. But the activity increased still more when the subjects played an instrument, giving the brain “the equivalent of a full-body workout” as nearly every area became engaged. After observing this activity, scientists now think that playing an instrument can help improve memory function and enhance our ability to perform executive functions, such as planning and strategizing. Further, there is evidence to suggest that by practicing on the instrument, these effects are amplified.2

Clearly, this is an intriguing area of study. You can keep current on the latest research in education by enrolling in a graduate program for teachers. There are many programs to choose from, and one of the most flexible options is an online master’s in education program. Earning a master in education online gives you a great deal of flexibility. You can study day or night in the comfort of your home. And you can structure your course load around your schedule, giving yourself time to meet work and personal responsibilities.

Walden University, an accredited institution, offers an online MS in Education, or MSEd, that allows you to learn according to your own schedule. Both the regular and accelerated course sequence expose you to the latest research and help you refine skills to ensure that you are effective as an educator, and that your students can succeed in the classroom.

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Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission,