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Why Music?

The Importance of Music Education

‘The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited.’
– Plutarch

‘Music has to be recognized as an…agent of social development in the highest sense, because it transmits the highest values – solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion. And it has the ability to unite an entire community and to express sublime feelings.’
– José Antonio Abreu

‘Music training helps under-achievers. Students lagging behind in scholastic performance caught up to their fellow students in reading and surpassed their classmates in math by 22% when given music instruction over seven months.’
– Nature, 24 May 1996


Music education teaches creative thinking, self-discipline and cooperation. Children and young people who participate in music classes or lessons are more motivated, enjoy their school week more and tend to be better students. Countless studies have shown that intelligence, test scores, reading ability, mathematical ability and social skills are all greatly improved by the study of music and fine arts.

Click on the tabs below for advocacy articles, scientific articles and videos about the value of music and music education.

ARTICLE DESCRIPTION
Why Music? An article by John Mardirosian (director of Waltons New School of Music) and Gwen Dukes, in ChildLinks, the journal of Barnardos National Children’s Resource Centre (2004).
The Benefits of the Study of Music A brochure produced by the MENC (National Association for Music Education) in the US.
Music Lessons Enhance IQ An article by E. Glenn Schellenberg in Psychological Science magazine (2004).
Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development A compendium summarising and discussing 62 research studies that examine the effects of arts learning on students’ social and academic skills (2002).
Involvement in the Arts and Human Development A research report from the Imagination Project at UCLA (1999).
12 Benefits of Music Learning A more general overview, in the FAQs section of our website.

These YouTube videos discuss music’s effects on the mind, as well as the value of music and music education for all age groups.

How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain

Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

The Case for Music Education

A general advocacy video from the Children’s Music Workshop on the value of music education.

Why Music Education Belongs in Public Schools

Roger H. Brown, President of Berklee College of Music, argues the case for music education in schools.

Alzheimer’s / The Power of Music

Oliver Sacks, author of Musicophilia, discusses music’s effects on Alzheimer’s patients.

Music and the Mind

Aniruddh Patel, of the Neurosciences Institute, discusses what music can teach us about the brain, and what brain science, in turn, can reveal about music.

El Sistema: Venezuela’s Youth Symphony

Boston Phoenix classical music editor Lloyd Schwartz on Venezuela’s world-famous classical music education system, with performance clips from a visit there in 2005.

Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale

– using audience participation, at the 2009 World Science Festival.

Understanding Music (an animation)

A simple but surprisingly effective video.

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