The Case for Music Education

The Case for Music Education

Jenna Simeonov

So, in 1993 there was a study published in _Nature_┬áby Francis Rauscher to try and measure the effect of classical music on spatial skills in children. The study found that 10 minutes of Mozart improved the spatial reasoning skills of college students and rats, and 10 minutes of piano or singing lessons did the same for preschoolers. And so the “Mozart effect” became known in education and parenting circles as “Mozart makes my kid smart.”

And then there were other studies done that suggested the improvements were actually pretty small. The difference in IQ in the children exposed to Mozart and those who weren’t was just a few points. I suppose the logical next step would be to use these negative findings in debates over the value of music education in public schools. Great.

I think the flaw is in asking whether or not or exposing your kid to classical music will make him intelligent. Intelligence is arguable, and brains work differently; I realize I’m being very broad, but it’s only because I don’t think there’s a debate to be had here. If you give a child a chance to study music, it means they’re either singing or learning an instrument. In either process, that child will learn aural skills, learn to read music (basically learning to read a large series of patterns), gain hand-eye co-ordination and fine motor skills, and learn self-discipline and time management. If you continue music education into secondary and post-secondary school, that list grows to include learning foreign languages, poetry analysis, musical and dramatic theory, and lots and lots of literature.

It doesn’t matter what you define as “intelligent.” These skills are undeniably a product of music education, and they’re valuable. Taking kids to concerts will create balance with TV. Taking a kids to piano lessons will complement their soccer games. I don’t know if it makes them smarter, but it will give them more scope of what kind of people exist in the world and how they spend their energy.

I like what Mark Tinkler, artistic director of English Pocket Opera Company, has to say about the whole thing.

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