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Music Students Do Better In School Than Kids Who Don't Play Music

We know that music can create a bonding experience between children and their fathers, but for high schoolers who take music in school, it can also help them do better on their exams. In fact, a new study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology proved that students who took music in high school actually did better on certain exams than those who didn't take the subject.

Sadly, many schools are facing budget cuts and with those cuts, many art classes are the first to be limited or cut altogether. This study is proving that children who take music are actually performing better on exams in subjects like math and English, making the argument that music is an integral part of a rounded education.

"Our research proved this belief wrong and found the more the students engage with music, the better they do in those subjects," said study author Peter Gouzouasis, Ph.D., of the University of British Columbia. "The students who learned to play a musical instrument in elementary and continued playing in high school not only score significantly higher, but were about one academic year ahead of their non-music peers with regard to their English, mathematics and science skills, as measured by their exam grades, regardless of their socioeconomic background, ethnicity, prior learning in mathematics and English, and gender."

"In public education systems in North America, arts courses, including music courses, are commonly underfunded in comparison with what are often referred to as academic courses, including math, science, and English,"Gouzouasis added. "It is believed that students who spend school time in music classes, rather than in further developing their skills in math, science and English classes, will underperform in those disciplines. Our research suggests that, in fact, the more they study music, the better they do in those subjects."

Gouzouasis and his team studied more than 112,000 students who attended public school in British Columbia and graduated between the years 2012 and 2015. The study found that approximately 13% of students had taken at least one music course from a list of qualifying music courses between grades 10, 11 or 12. “On average, the children who learned to play a musical instrument for many years, and were now playing in high school band and orchestra, were the equivalent of about one academic year ahead of their peers with regard to their English, mathematics and science skills, as measured by their exam grades.”

The researchers state they hope that parents and students, as well as school administrators, are made aware of the findings of this study so everyone understands the benefits of music courses in schools.

“Often, resources for music education — including the hiring of trained, specialized music educators, and band and orchestral instruments — are cut or not available in elementary and secondary schools. The argument has frequently been that we need all our money to focus on math, science, and English,” said Gouzouasis. “The irony is that music education — multiple years of high-quality instrumental learning and playing in a band or orchestra or singing in a choir at an advanced level – may be the very thing that improves all-around academic achievement and an ideal way to have students learn more holistically in schools."

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