JUSTIFY YOUR MUSIC PROGRAM
A Study of Evidence that Music Education
is a Positive Factor in K-8 Student Academic Achievement,
Fall 1987, California State University. Copied with
permission from Wyoming MEA Journal (1991). Wyoming
MEA web-site is http://www.uwyo.edu/a&s/musc/wmea.htm
Research--whoa, don’t turn the page--is important
in music education. It is not the dusty, dry study of
facts and statistics. Research decides what we teach,
when we teach it, and how we teach. It can also help
you justify your music education program when faced
with budget cuts and program elimination. Research in
music education is reported in numerous journals throughout
the United States. Some of the more prominent journals
include the Music Educators Journal, Journal of Research
in Music Education, Bulletin of the Council for Research
in Music Education, and Update: Applications of Research
in Music Education. Other regional journals are gaining
a reputation like the Southeastern Journal of Music
Education published by the University of Georgia. More
limited publications are also being pursued by smaller
universities and local organizations. An example is
the development of a one-time publication by the Utah
Music Education Association to report research done
in music education in the state of Utah.
An excellent article on applying research findings
is “Putting Research to Work in the Music Classroom” in
the May 1991 Music Educators Journal by H. Eugene Karjala.
The article describes the process of reporting research
through publication, linking the research to the classroom
through workshops and applying the findings to actual
classroom situations. The author also lists several
important sources of research reports.
If you or your music education program is faced with
cuts because of declining revenues (a possibility even
in Evanston!), an excellent article to help build your
defense was recently published in the August 1991 Instrumentalist.
Although the author defends program cuts on a purely
economical basis, many school administrators propose
cuts in music programs for exactly those reasons. “Defending
Music Programs with Economic Analysis” by John
Benham basically states that music teachers are cost
efficient. They teach more students than classroom teachers,
so if a school eliminates three music teachers, they
must be replaced by a least four classroom teachers.
In an effort to save money by dropping the music program,
school administrators will actually spend more to replace
Research in music education also shows many correlations
of the value of music education with learning other
subject matter. A master’s thesis by Jeanne Akin,
Music Makes a Difference, documents numerous studies
that show the value of music education to learning
the “core” curriculum.
Highlights from a summary of Ms. Akin’s findings
are as follows:
1. Arts education leads to cognitive
and basic skills development (Medeja 1978) (Milley
2. Arts education increases interest in academic
learning (Kaufman 1976).
3. High school music students
have been shown to hold higher grade point averages
(GPA) than non-musicians in the same school (Horne
4. The study of music produces the development
of academic achievement skills (State of California
5. Learning to play a musical instrument helps
students to develop faster physically, mentally,
emotionally and socially (Mueller 1984).
is a high relationship between high self-perception,
high cognitive competence scores, general self-esteem
and interest in school music (Lillemyre 1983).
Music lessons can lead to interest in academics (Olanoff & Kirschner
8. Music education improves student listening
skills (Kohanski 1970).
9. Kindergarten basic skills
achievement increases when music and other arts are
added to the curriculum (Minicucci 1981).
and arts enriched curriculum can be a factor in raising
IQ scores for second graders (Mathison 1977).
In reading for meaning, music students can out-achieve
non-music students (Friedman 1959). 12. Children
who have received school keyboard music lessons score
higher in mathematics and history than students not
in the program, although their IQ scores are no higher
than the other students’ (ESEA 1969).
increased music instruction can lead to increased
learning in mathematics (Malester 1986).
14. Brain research
shows that music and arts activities develop the
intellect (Sinatra 1986).
15. Research indicates that
music instruction promotes academic achievement (Horne
16. There are many research studies that show
a connection between music education and reinforcement
for academic tasks (Madsen 1981).
17. Eye-hand coordination
needed to learn to write can be developed by learning
to play an instrument (Wishey 1980).
problems are reduced in school systems which have
arts programs (Arts, Education and Americans 1980).
Personal expression is encouraged through performance
in the arts (Oklahoma State Department of Education
20. Research indicates that reading music
can improve reading language abilities in slow young
learners (Tucker 1981).
Finally, a few more interesting tidbits of the value
of music education as evidenced by research findings.
Edward P. Asmus of the University of Utah, as quoted
in MENC’s Soundpost and other sources, has documented
a direct correlation between the number of music teachers
per 100 students and SAT and ACT scores. The greater
the music teacher/pupil ratio directly corresponds to
higher scores on nationally standardized academic achievement
tests. This relationship is even stronger the overall
teacher/pupil ratio. This suggests that music education
plays a powerful role in the overall educational process.
An article in the July 1990 Instrumentalist states
that music majors have the highest rate of admittance
to medical school, higher than any other subject area
including biochemistry, chemistry and physics. The article
quotes facts and figures from a Rockefeller Foundation
study and concludes by suggesting that students eager
to be admitted to medical school should be music majors.
(We knew this all along, right?)
If you need more details for any of the above, please
feel free to call or write. If you have suggestions
for other areas of research to be reported on, also
feel free to let me know. My address is Randall Royer,
c/o Evanston Middle School, PO Box 6002, Evanston WY
82931-6002. Telephone (307) 789-7571.
P.S. I have no documentation for this right now (I
know I read it somewhere), but I know that chopping
firewood is a great stress-reliever. Time to go get
ready for winter and unload some of that first nine-week’s