Music education has proven to increase concentration abilities as well as intuitive and conceptual thinking. Students in top-quality music programs scored 22% better in English and 20% better in math than students in deficient music programs, regardless of the school's socioeconomic level or district, according to the Music Educators National Conference. Schools with music programs have significantly higher graduation rates than those without (90.2%as compared to 72.9% according to a 2006 Harris survey of high school principals).
Research strongly suggests that children, who learn and participate in music, acquire skills that help them in decision making, problem solving, creative thinking, and teamwork. An increasing number of studies also find that music programs motivate children to learn, assisting in improving performance in core academic subjects. For some children, music education provides the impetus to stay in school until graduation and, for others, the inspiration to pursue college education. Music education programs will continue to play a pivotal role as Florida struggles to improve high school graduation rates, develop pre-kindergarten programs, and counter the achievement gap in urban communities.
Three years of research at seven top universities has proven that music education is directly correlated with other cognitive abilities. Music education was strongly linked to children's skills in geometric reasoning, according to Dr. Elizabeth Spelke's research at Harvard. This mathematics skill, which is essential for architects, engineers, astronomers and others, is one of three basic systems that underlie ability in mathematics.
Additionally, a striking correlation was found between music education and reading acquisition. Dr. Brian Wandell of Stanford found that the amount of music education children had in the first year of his three-year study directly correlated with the amount of improvements in children's reading fluency over those three years. He also found that the children with music education also demonstrated better phonological awareness, which is one of the central predictors of early literacy.
Another correlation between music education and cognition, specifically memory, was made by Dr. John Jonides at the University of Michigan. His research demonstrated that people intensively exposed to music education apply rehearsal strategies-essentially cognitive strategies rather than brain changes-to maintain information in working [immediate] and long-term memory more effectively.
A majority of Fortune 500 companies have stated that, even more than reading and math, students in the United States need to learn the core skills of innovation to succeed in a competitive world economy. Music education provides skills like: imagining possibilities; having the courage, persistence and discipline to pursue them; working in a team, integrating feedback, and performing under pressure. The critical skills children develop when they struggle with their instrument, write a song, join a band or find their voice in a choir, are the same skills needed to succeed in a creative economy and solve our greatest future challenges.