If so, your kid should be playing an instrument. Many parents put music on the back burner, thinking only math and reading skills matter. And while we agree that they matter (we are a tutoring company after all), we value the importance of educating the whole child, and know that studies have proven again and again that music lessons help children in ways that carry over to the classroom as well. Many of our math tutors, science tutors, and test-prep tutors come from strong music backgrounds, and help kids manage academic work so they have time for music.
For students to stay competitive in our quickly changing society, they need to know how to innovate, chart new territory, and think outside the box, in order to stand out to private schools, top universities, and potential employers.
Need some proof? Check out these top four reasons music helps kids succeed:
#1 Success in School
Studies show kids who play instruments earn higher grades and standardized tests scores, and fare better on cognitive and spatial development tests (which are often used as a measure for kids to get into gifted programs). Colleges love musicians, too! According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as a valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them. It is also well known and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to children’s intellectual development.”
A 2001 report by the College Entrance Examination Board states that students who studied music appreciation scored significantly higher on the SAT (63 points on verbal, 44 points on math) than students who do not. The National Center for Education Statistics reveals that music students not only receive more academic honors, but also make up the largest percentage of students receiving top grades.
#2 Improve Brain Development
Studying music has been shown to improve concentration and focus, which carries over to the classroom as well. Children who study music increase coordination, dexterity, complex thinking, and fine motor skills as they translate notes into hand movements.
Musicians quickly adjust tempo, rhythm, and style, and they improvise constantly. This helps the brain learn to quickly adjust to new situations, maintain focus, and build abstract reasoning skills, which are fundamental for math and science reasoning in school. Music has been shown to dramatically increase spatial reasoning skills in students as young as three years old.
#3 Build Confidence, Patience & Work Ethic
Kids who study music learn early that persistence pays off. They understand that reaching a goal often takes hours of practice, focus, determination, and stamina as they work through initial failures. Kids who study music also build a real sense of pride and self-confidence when they work hard and reach their goals.
This attitude carries over to academic and professional life, as academic courses such as AP Biology, physics, math, and foreign languages require intense stamina. The self-discipline required to master music translates to highly effective work habits, study skills, and an intrinsic motivation to learn.
#4 Improve Social & Life Skills
Music opens doors for kids to interact with each other during lessons and recitals, and to join ensembles, orchestras, and music groups as they get into middle and high school. Students often get to travel with school bands, helping them discover new cultures, create strong bonds with peers, and have a richer social life.
Embracing music also allows kids to experience highs in life that come from a deep appreciation of music. Learning an instrument helps students connect with themselves and with others as they share in the joy and wonder that music can bring to life. It also helps kids make smart choices. Afraid your guitar playing son will turn to drugs if he joins a band? Not so. The Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse states, “Secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol, tobacco, drugs)."
Committing time for the arts is essential to building skills that lead to success in school, work, and life. Most of our academic tutors grew up playing an instrument and went on to study a wide variety of impressive academic subjects, from Aerospace Engineering, to Law, Medicine, Biology, Chemistry, and beyond. Our expert test-prep tutors and homework tutors can help students balance school workloads so they have time for music, because we believe in the importance of helping kids develop a well rounded foundation incorporating arts and education.
College-Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers. Princeton, NJ: The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001.
Getting Ready for College Early: A Handbook for Parents of Students in the Middle and Junior High School Years, U.S. Department of Education, 1997
Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. New York: Pantheon Books, 2001.
Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report. Reported in Houseon Chrinicle, January 1998.