Opinion: music training as best way to improve American education system

Posted on: October 15, 2014

“A growing body of evidence suggests that music could trump many of the much more expensive ‘fixes’ that we have thrown at the education system” in the U.S., writes Joanne Lipman in Friday’s (10/10) Wall Street Journal. “Music is no cure-all, nor is it likely to turn your child into a Nobel Prize winner. But there is compelling evidence that it can boost children’s academic performance and help fix some of our schools’ most intractable problems.” Among the studies cited in Lipman’s article are 2004 and 2011 University of Toronto findings that music raises IQ scores and enhances the brain’s “executive function” in children; Northwestern University neurobiologist Nina Kraus’s study of 6-to-9-year-olds in the free afterschool Harmony Project in Los Angeles and of high-school students in Chicago, showing that music training can reduce the academic gap between rich and poor school districts; a German study of 17-year-olds finding that music training does more than sports, theater, or dance to improve key academic skills; a Harvard Medical School study of second-graders showing that music can be an inexpensive early screening tool for reading disabilities; and a 2009 Journal of Neuroscience study in which MRIs of 6-year-old children showed that their brains grew faster than brains of children in a control group.

Posted October 15, 2014