The Value of Music Education

Does being involved in an educational music program help your child learn? What are the benefits of a music education?

Educational research indicates that there are many benefits to being involved in a quality music program – improved memory and reading, higher IQ scores, and improved math and language test scores.

According to Dr. Laurel Trainor, a Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior at McMaster University, young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year, compared to children who do not receive musical training. Musically trained children performed better in a memory test that is correlated with general intelligence skills such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics, and IQ.

One study found a small increase in the IQs of six-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons. As part of his study, E. Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto at Mississauga, provided nine months of piano and voice lessons to a dozen six-year-olds, drama lessons to a second group of six-year-olds, and no lessons to a third group. The children’s IQs were tested before entering the first grade, then again before entering the second grade. Surprisingly, the children who were given music lessons over the school year tested on average three IQ points higher than the other groups.  (Information as published in a 2004 issue of Psychological Science).

In addition, Stanford University research found that musical training improves how the brain processes the spoken word, a finding that researchers say could lead to improving the reading ability of children who have dyslexia and other reading problems. (“Playing music can be good for your brain,” SF Chronicle, November 17, 2005)

Another study in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, revealed that elementary students who were offered excellent music education programs scored around 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math on standardized tests. This was compared to schools with low-quality music programs, regardless of socioeconomic disparities among the schools or school districts. Johnson likens the focus and concentration that music training requires, to that of the focus needed to perform well on a standardized test. A child’s brain simply works harder when they are reading and playing music.

If your child’s school does not offer a quality music education program, ask them if there are plans to implement one! Many of our Houston-area private schools offer quality music education for children as young as pre-school. Some schools not only provide music, choir, orchestra and band classes during the day at least once or twice a week, they also offer piano, strings, and other music classes after school.

To learn more about the benefits of music education mentioned in this article.


LouAnn Webber is the Director of Admission at Memorial Lutheran School in the Galleria area, and she also handles all communication and marketing for the school.  LouAnn has 20 years’ experience in private school admissions and education. Memorial Lutheran School’s classical program promotes music education at all levels, Early Childhood through 8th grade.

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