The recent education reform proposal for High School students in Idaho to each be provided with a laptop and required to take six online classes before graduating concerns me, primarily because I wonder what is going to give in order to make this possible? With all of the budget cuts that have already taken place and with music and the arts constantly being cut, I worry that this will put them even further in the background.
Music educators feel as though they are constantly fighting for and defending music education as part of the K-12 curriculum in public schools. Considering the research that has been done on music and the brain and the substantial evidence that has emerged, I find it hard to believe that music is still being cut.
Northwestern University scientists recently published a paper which compiles research findings from scientists across the globe. S. L. Baker, feature writer for Natural News, states “The bottom line to all these studies: musical training has a profound impact on other skills including speech and language, memory and attention, and even the ability to convey emotions vocally.” Children with musical training are generally better at reading and have a larger vocabulary than those without. Music also tends to strengthen neural processes in children with learning disabilities, including ADHD, dyslexia, and many others. Participating in music also contributes to neuroplasticity, enhancing sound-to-meaning connections which are important in all aspects of communication.
I could go on forever, but I think that Northwestern University scientists summed it up well as they made a case for including music in school curriculums; “The effect of music training suggests that, akin to physical exercise and its impact on body fitness, music is a resource that tones the brain for auditory fitness and thus requires society to re-examine the role of music in shaping individual development.”