Music Advocacy

20 Important Benefits of Music In Our Schools

by National Association for Music Education

Nearly everyone enjoys music, whether by listening to it, singing, or playing an instrument. But despite this almost universal interest, many schools are having to do away with their music education programs. This is a mistake, with schools losing not only an enjoyable subject, but a subject that can enrich students’ lives and education. Read on to learn why music education is so important, and how it offers benefits even beyond itself.

1. Musical training helps develop language and reasoning: Students who have early musical training will develop the areas of the brain related to language and reasoning. The left side of the brain is better developed with music, and songs can help imprint information on young minds.

2. A mastery of memorization: Even when performing with sheet music, student musicians are constantly using their memory to perform. The skill of memorization can serve students well in education and beyond.

3. Students learn to improve their work: Learning music promotes craftsmanship, and students learn to want to create good work instead of mediocre work. This desire can be applied to all subjects of study.

4. Increased coordination: Students who practice with musical instruments can improve their hand-eye coordination. Just like playing sports, children can develop motor skills when playing music.

5. A sense of achievement: Learning to play pieces of music on a new instrument can be a challenging, but achievable goal. Students who master even the smallest goal in music will be able to feel proud of their achievement.

6. Kids stay engaged in school: An enjoyable subject like music can keep kids interested and engaged in school. Student musicians are likely to stay in school to achieve in other subjects.

7. Success in society: Music is the fabric of our society, and music can shape abilities and character. Students in band or orchestra are less likely to abuse substances over their lifetime. Musical education can greatly contribute to children’s intellectual development as well.

8. Emotional development: Students of music can be more emotionally developed, with empathy towards other cultures They also tend to have higher self esteem and are better at coping with anxiety.

9. Students learn pattern recognition: Children can develop their math and pattern-recognition skills with the help of musical education. Playing music offers repetition in a fun format.

10. Better SAT scores: Students who have experience with music performance or appreciation score higher on the SAT. One report indicates 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math for students in music appreciation courses.

11. Fine-tuned auditory skills: Musicians can better detect meaningful, information-bearing elements in sounds, like the emotional meaning in a baby’s cry. Students who practice music can have better auditory attention, and pick out predictable patterns from surrounding noise.

12. Music builds imagination and intellectual curiosity: Introducing music in the early childhood years can help foster a positive attitude toward learning and curiosity. Artistic education develops the whole brain and develops a child’s imagination.

13. Music can be relaxing: Students can fight stress by learning to play music. Soothing music is especially helpful in helping kids relax.

14. Musical instruments can teach discipline: Kids who learn to play an instrument can learn a valuable lesson in discipline. They will have to set time aside to practice and rise to the challenge of learning with discipline to master playing their instrument.

15. Preparation for the creative economy: Investing in creative education can prepare students for the 21st century workforce. The new economy has created more artistic careers, and these jobs may grow faster than others in the future.

16. Development in creative thinking: Kids who study the arts can learn to think creatively. This kind of education can help them solve problems by thinking outside the box and realizing that there may be more than one right answer.

17. Music can develop spatial intelligence: Students who study music can improve the development of spatial intelligence, which allows them to perceive the world accurately and form mental pictures. Spatial intelligence is helpful for advanced mathematics and more.

18. Kids can learn teamwork: Many musical education programs require teamwork as part of a band or orchestra. In these groups, students will learn how to work together and build camaraderie.

19. Responsible risk-taking: Performing a musical piece can bring fear and anxiety. Doing so teaches kids how to take risks and deal with fear, which will help them become successful and reach their potential.

20. Better self-confidence: With encouragement from teachers and parents, students playing a musical instrument can build pride and confidence. Musical education is also likely to develop better communication for students.


The Music Coalition: More Than Fund-Raising

Dr. John Benham

There are four primary components to successful music advocacy.

  1. A comprehensive Music Coalition
  2. A unified body of Music Educators
  3. Detailed knowledge of the function and process of decision-making in the local school district
  4. Collection and interpretation of the right data for making proposals

The most important of the four elements is the comprehensive Music Coalition. Unfortunately, most of these organizations are structured only as a band-boosters fund-raising body; but the possibilities are far greater. Of great benefit to the successful music program in any district is the political power that is available with much broader representation and a diversity of responsibilities. The most effective coalitions have the following characteristics.

  • They represent every area of the music curriculum, often with children from the same family in various components of the music program.
  • They represent every educational level in the school district, often with children from the same family in elementary, middle and/or high school.
  • They represent every school in the district, providing a broad base of political support and communication.
  • They are a single body, with sub-divisions for each area of the music curriculum.

Responsibilities that can be handled by the Music Coalition can be of great assistance to the music teacher, freeing them from many non-teaching responsibilities that can detract from time that could otherwise be spent with student needs. These include the following possibilities.

  • Publishing a regular music newsletter on music activities in the district
  • Maintaining a music department website
  • Representation at all meetings of the board of education, including presentation of proposals for the music department
  • Assisting in the development and support of a district-wide policy on the right of every student to participate in the music program at all levels
  • Recruiting and supporting potential members of the school board, and holding them accountable for maintaining a comprehensive music curriculum.

“There is no single body more capable of raising rapid political support than a well-organized music coalition.” – Superintendent of Schools


[1] Includes excerpts from Benham, John L., Music Advocacy: Moving from Survival to Vision, Rowman & Littlefield, 2011.

National Association for Music Education

National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM)

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