Back in January of this year I posted practically the same blog I’m posting today. My life-long crusade has been to make instrumental music playing a mandatory requirement for every elementary school in the USA. I think my title above gives you the “why” answer.
The reason I’m harping on this again is yesterday’s music article that appeared in the L.A. Times and picked up in our local fish-wrap. The article talked about the latest research dealing with “lapsed” musical instrumentalists. You know; the kids that quit after a year or two. What happens to them when they become adults. Do they automatically turn to sex, drugs, and rock and roll? Ah—NO!
The study shows that those few years of playing music changes their brain FOREVER, improving mental function. The mental functions that change forever are, heightened auditory perception, better listening skills, and improved executive functions. In other words you give your kid an edge for years and years.
It was only a matter of time until I got around to mentioning two of my favorite words….music education. I admit I’m biased because I’m a musician. However, I never had the opportunity to play music in a school music program. I was lucky to take private music lessons weekly or bi-weekly for 10 or 12 years. But as I see our ridiculous and broken education system trying to perfect a program that should never have been started (no child left behind), I have to state my opinion on how to improve test scores. My answer is…mandatory music playing for every student…period. Watch the test scores go up over night.
Music Makes You Smarter!
I double dare you to Google those four words. Yes, there will be over 5 million results but just read a few and you’ll be convinced that music can give your child so many life-long rewards. Your child will have more confidence, self-esteem, better memory, increased math skills, improved language skills and improved mood. There should be parents marching on school boards demanding music for each child. The test scores will rise and the board will look like heroes.
In the late 80s and early 90s I kept a close eye on reports from a few groups doing early research on brain functions changes while playing a musical instrument. WisconsinUniversityand UC Irvine in California had some amazing results.
Here’s one statistic every parent should know. A group of 10 & 11 year old kids had their brains hooked up to a monitor. When these kids were given very tough math problems or complicated reading/writing assignments, they were “using” about 15% of one side of their brain. The same kids playing a clarinet used 85% of the “entire” brain. Enough said.