The debate surrounding whether art and music classes should be a part of elementary school can finally be settled with science. Spoiler: they should.
A new study shows that music lessons actually make children smarter, enhancing their cognitive capabilities and academic performance in unrelated subjects.
This is particularly significant given the fact that music and art classes seem to be disappearing from schools at an increasing rate. They are the first to go when budgets are being cut because they are seen as frivolous or unnecessary.
"Despite indications that music has beneficial effects on cognition, music is disappearing from general education curricula," said Dr. Artur Jaschke of the University of Amsterdam, who was one of the study's leaders. "This inspired us to initiate a long-term study on the possible effects of music education on cognitive skills that may underlie academic achievement."
Their project was the first longitudinal, large-scale study to examine the effects of music classes in the school system. Researchers looked at 147 children in different Dutch schools, where all children followed the same curriculum, but some had supplementary music or visual art classes. They were tested once, then again after two and a half years of lessons.
"Children who received music lessons showed improved language-based reasoning and the ability to plan, organize and complete tasks, as well as improved academic achievement," Dr Jaschke said. "This suggests that the cognitive skills developed during music lessons can influence children's cognitive abilities in completely unrelated subjects, leading to overall improved academic performance."
They also found that kids who did visual art improved their visual and spatial memory.
So I guess there is still some benefit to middle school band, even though I don’t know how to play the flute anymore.