In today’s America, it is often the student-athlete that receives the highest degree of acclaim. The football star or the basketball wiz or the lacrosse genius garner a great deal of attention because sports are competitive and exciting. There’s nothing wrong with that; these are the facts. At the same time, in a world where standardized testing has come to rule the school, not enough attention is being paid to what actually helps students stay focused on their studies and achieve their academic goals. Not enough attention is being paid to arts education and specifically music education.
Beginner music lessons contribute to the overall growth of an individual in a way that few other things can do. Acoustic guitar lessons, piano classes, and even dance lessons not only make for well-rounded students, they make for more productive ones. More than three-quarters of American students feel that playing an instrument helps them perform better in their other subjects. Just a quick look at SAT scores will prove the point even further. On the 2012 SAT tests, students who participated in some kind of music program scored an average of 31 points higher on the reading portion, 23 points higher in math, and 31 points higher than average on the writing section.
Beginner music lessons such as guitar lessons for beginners ignites a portion of the brain that strengthens focus and concentration. In addition to the aesthetic beauty of simply making something beautiful, music is mathematical. Music forces the musician, young or old, to think in beats and measures which are all laid out in a proportioned structure. Counting is key, and putting together a complete musical performance take a great deal more than simply being “artistic.”
But there are other benefits to having music programs in schools than simply producing students who can score well on the SAT tests. Schools with music programs that teach beginner music lessons and advanced courses alike produce students who actually show up for school in higher numbers. If a school has a music program, it will likely have an attendance rate of 93.3% compared to an 84.9% attendance rate for schools without music. That is a pretty remarkable difference.
Perhaps an even more remarkable statistic is the fact that schools that have music programs can boast a graduation rate of 90.2% compared to a graduation rate of only 72.9% for their non-music program counterparts. When almost 18% more students are graduating because of courses that are directly related to the arts, and music in particular, why wouldn’t every school system take advantage of the opportunity to offer those courses?
Beginner music lessons do much more than fill a young person’s mind with dreams of touring the world and trying to make a living in a band. They shape and mold a young mind, forcing it to think outside of the box to create something unique out of something formulaic. If we want to succeed with our education system in the United States, we need to wake up to the importance of music and arts education.