The Benefits of Learning Music

Shalin Mehta, Contributing Writer

Music has been around for a long, long time. In fact, songs have become an essential part of society and have greatly helped with unifying individuals and communities. However, it seems as if schools have started to place less emphasis on musical education for the purpose of allowing students to learn more “relevant” subjects like English, math, and science. While Morris Hills does have an art requirement for graduation, this is not true for all schools, and just having one course cannot effectively introduce students to the power of music. As a result, there is a general lack of musical knowledge in the young adult population. This is a serious issue because it turns out that learning music actually provides a significant number of benefits for the learner, many of which will help him or her in other areas as well.

Joe Martino, a writer for Collective Evolution, explains that various studies show that learning music at an early age can stimulate a child’s brain in a multitude of ways, eventually aiding in the development of strong verbal, communication, and visual skills. For example, one study looked at a group of four to six year olds who were trained to understand rhythm, pitch, melody, and voice; within a month, there was significant evidence that these young children were able to understand words and explain their meanings. Additionally, Martino cites another study done with eight to eleven year olds that shows how musical education resulted in higher verbal IQ scores and better visual ability compared to those who had no musical training at all. Clearly, there is a connection between learning music and improving one’s analytical skills.

Furthermore, it is interesting to note that many successful people have played and even continue to play musical instruments during their spare time. In the New York Times, writer Joanne Lipman cites numerous famous individuals who credit a lot of their success to music. For example, Alan Greenspan, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a clarinet and saxophone player. Additionally, the hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner took piano classes at Juilliard; the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, still plays the guitar; and renowned actor and filmmaker Woody Allen continues to play the clarinet. Lipman explains that the correlation between successful individuals and their musical education is not a coincidence. She was told by many of these high achievers that music opened up pathways to creative thinking, aided in collaboration, and allowed them to focus on the past and future simultaneously.

Some Morris Hills students have similar praises for musical education. Shalaka Madge, a junior, plays guitar during her free time. She says, “Music is a way for me to utilize the creative part of my mind. I play the guitar every time I want to take a break from my homework or just relax. It’s nice to just be able to pick up an instrument and play because I can play for myself and for my friends.” Additionally, junior Maia Iyer gives music two thumbs up. She plays the piano in her free time and explains how it has made her better at math. She also says, “Playing music is my way of destressing. My headaches go away with piano. It has helped me connect with myself.” Maia and Shalaka’s experiences show that while musical education can improve academic performance, it can also help cope with the stress that many high school students face constantly.

Mr. Sopko, the Morris Hills band teacher, also believes that music is important for basic development and growth. He says, “Music is a ‘Time-Art’… Students must perform music in a timed succession similar to riding a bicycle or driving a car… Music enhances one’s ability to react to other subjects and apply the ‘Time-Art’ to the learning process.” He even quotes Kenneth Guilmartin, the cofounder of a childhood music development program called Music Together, who says, “Making music involves more than the voice or fingers playing an instrument; a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often simultaneously… Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity.”

Overall, it is clear that learning music has various benefits that can greatly improve an individual’s life. Music helps improve verbal, mathematical, and analytical skills and can also stimulate more creative thinking. Playing an instrument can also relieve stress which makes it a great activity for relaxation. Musical education should be an essential part of school and any child’s life.