The Research: Benefits of Playing Piano and Studying Music
The pace of scientific research into music making
has never been greater. New data about music’s relationship to brainpower,
wellness and other phenomena is changing the way we perceive mankind’s
oldest art form, and it’s having a real-world effect on decisions
about educational priorities.
below provide a glimpse into these exciting developments. For a more in-depth
treatment of current music science, visit our affiliate, The International
Foundation for Music Research.East Coast Piano School of Music in Edison,
NJ, serving edison, east brunswick, north brunswick, south brunswick,
new brunswick, metuchen, highland park, piscataway, woodbridge, iselin,
manalapan, warren, peth amboy, bridgewater, south river, princeton, monroe
township, belle mead, dunellen, & somerset, NJ
school and high school students who participated in instrumental music
scored significantly higher than their non-band peers in standardized
tests. University studies conducted in Georgia and Texas found significant
correlations between the number of years of instrumental music instruction
and academic achievement in math, science and language arts.
University of Sarasota Study, Jeffrey Lynn Kluball; East Texas State University
Study, Daryl Erick Trent
who were exposed to the music-based lessons scored a full 100 percent
higher on fractions tests than those who learned in the conventional manner.
Second-grade and third-grade students were taught fractions in an untraditional
manner ‹ by teaching them basic music rhythm notation. The group
was taught about the relationships between eighth, quarter, half and whole
notes. Their peers received traditional fraction instruction.
Neurological Research, March 15, 1999
majors are the most likely group of college grads to be admitted to medical
school. Physician and biologist Lewis Thomas studied the undergraduate
majors of medical school applicants. He found that 66 percent of music
majors who applied to med school were admitted, the highest percentage
of any group. For comparison, (44 percent) of biochemistry majors were
admitted. Also, a study of 7,500 university students revealed that music
majors scored the highest reading scores among all majors including English,
biology, chemistry and math.
“The Comparative Academic Abilities of Students in Education and
in Other Areas of a Multi-focus University,” Peter H. Wood, ERIC
Document No. ED327480
Case for Music in the Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan, February, 1994
study can help kids understand advanced music concepts. A grasp of proportional
math and fractions is a prerequisite to math at higher levels, and children
who do not master these areas cannot understand more advanced math critical
to high-tech fields. Music involves ratios, fractions, proportions and
thinking in space and time. Second-grade students were given four months
of piano keyboard training, as well as time using newly designed math
software. The group scored over 27 percent higher on proportional math
and fractions tests than children who used only the math software.
Neurological Research March, 1999
shows that piano students are better equipped to comprehend mathematical
and scientific concepts. A group of preschoolers received private piano
keyboard lessons and singing lessons. A second group received private
computer lessons. Those children who received piano/keyboard training
performed 34 percent higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability
than the others ‹ even those who received computer training. “Spatial-temporal”
is basically proportional reasoning – ratios, fractions, proportions
and thinking in space and time. This concept has long been considered
a major obstacle in the teaching of elementary math and science.
Neurological Research February 28, 1997
children with developed rhythm skills perform better academically in early
school years. Findings of a recent study showed that there was a significant
difference in the academic achievement levels of students classified according
to rhythmic competency. Students who were achieving at academic expectation
scored high on all rhythmic tasks, while many of those who scored lower
on the rhythmic test achieved below academic expectation.
Source: “The Relationship between Rhythmic Competency and Academic
Performance in First Grade Children,” University of Central Florida,
Debby MitchellDid You Know?
High school music students score higher on SATs in both verbal and math
than their peers. In 2001, SAT takers with coursework/experience in music
performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal portion of the test
and 41 points higher on the math portion than students with no coursework/experience
in the arts.
Profile of SAT and Achievement Test Takers, The College Board, compiled
by Music Educators National Conference, 2001.
musicians are emotionally healthier than their non-musician counterparts.
A study conducted at the University of Texas looked at 362 students who
were in their first semester of college. They were given three tests,
measuring performance anxiety, emotional concerns and alcohol related
problems. In addition to having fewer battles with the bottle, researchers
also noted that the college-aged music students seemed to have surer footing
when facing tests.
Houston Chronicle, January 11, 1998
study, tracking more than 25,000 students, shows that music-making improves
test scores. Regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students
get higher marks in standardized tests than those who had no music involvement.
The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the
SAT, but also in reading proficiency exams.
Dr. James Catterall, UCLA, 1997
top academic countries place a high value on music education. Hungary,
Netherlands and Japan stand atop worldwide science achievement and have
strong commitment to music education. All three countries have required
music training at the elementary and middle school levels, both instrumental
and vocal, for several decades. The centrality of music education to learning
in the top-ranked countries seems to contradict the United States' focus
on math, science, vocabulary, and technology.
Source: 1988 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement
training helps under-achievers. In Rhode Island, researchers studied eight
public school first grade classes. Half of the classes became “test
arts” groups, receiving ongoing music and visual arts training.
In kindergarten, this group had lagged behind in scholastic performance.
After seven months, the students were given a standardized test. The “test
arts” group had caught up to their fellow students in reading and
surpassed their classmates in math by 22 percent. In the second year of
the project, the arts students widened this margin even further. Students
were also evaluated on attitude and behavior. Classroom teachers noted
improvement in these areas also.
Nature Magazine, May 23, 1996