New brain research shows not only that music is fun, but also that it improves our brain development and even enhances skills in other subjects such as reading and math.
There's a great deal of excitement over music research these days. Almost weekly, the popular press reports on new findings, such as the effects of listening to or playing music on child development, intelligence, cognitive abilities, and brain functions. The governor of Georgia believes that music is important enough to risk political embarrassment: He asked the state to pay to send a classical CD to every new mother in Georgia. He failed to get the appropriation but still received the CDs, courtesy of Sony. And in Florida, there is a move to require preschools to play at least 30 minutes of music each day. What's going on?
Many school administrators and teachers, faced with making difficult decisions about curriculum and school activities, need to know the new and significant research findings about music and education. Should schools reduce, dismantle, maintain, or increase music programs? As one who is involved in music research, I will summarize some of the most salient findings. However, I want to make clear that independent of research findings, I regard music and the arts as essential, not optional, components of education. We should not have to justify music in the curriculum only by citing its extra-musical benefits. But because the benefits are becoming increasingly apparent, educators need current information to make informed decisions about the place of music in schools.