Updated: Apr 12
In recent years, formal music education has suffered a loss of identity and importance within many schools. As well as suffering from government funding cuts, it has also been differentiated and singled out alongside other creative arts, as universities have demanded qualifications in more ‘academic’ subjects. However, we believe music is actually the most academic subject of all - particularly during the formative years of a young persons’ life and should be encouraged, and made available, amongst all learning faculties. We are very thankful to all of our partner schools who have made the decision to provide their students with an excellent peripatetic service, but unfortunately not all children are lucky enough to be given this type of opportunity.
Alongside the more obvious benefits of having fun, learning a new skill and practising creativity, music education has a lot of unexpected benefits. A recent study from The University College of London found that learning an instrument develops a child's ability to read, comprehend social environments, enhances their memory, improves physical health & well-being and can even boost the immune system!
This occurs through a process that Prof. Randy Pausch calls ‘head fake’ learning. Whilst a child thinks they are learning to sing, they are actually learning how to notice emotion within spoken language based upon changes of intonation. Whilst a child thinks they are learning a new guitar chord, they are actually learning perseverance and concentration. While a child thinks they are practising for a grade exam, they are actually practising discipline and learning that hard work results in success and reward. These are all transferable skills that will benefit their entire ‘academic’ education.
I have often heard the argument that music is just for ‘creative types’ and those who struggle to excel in other traditional fields such as numeracy or literacy. I would argue the complete contrary is actually closer to the truth. First, I believe that all humans are ‘creative types’. Whether it be painting, writing, dancing, imagining a new way of working, problem solving or even cooking the kids’ dinner! Many tasks require creativity and these re not just limited to traditional art forms. Secondly, music education is beneficial to all and will actually help a child develop transferable skills to be used in other settings such as reading, writing, comprehension and social activities. The “Mozart Effect” is the recognition of a pattern whereby musicians have an unusually high level of mathematic ability.
In the study ‘The Power Of Music’ by Susan Hallam, it is reported that:
Learning to play an instrument enhances the ability to remember words through enlargement of the left cranial temporal regions. Musically trained participants remembered 17% more verbal information that those without musical training.
Many successful business owners, celebrities, politicians, teachers, stock market experts, computer programmers and inventors have developed large amounts of their skill set from the seed of musical training.
Music Education is also very important for well being, health and behavioural learning. In my personal experience, learning an instrument was the most influential decision I ever made. Every occurrence since the age of 8 has been massively affected by that decision!
Prior to picking up a guitar, my parents struggled to channel my hyperactive energy and sudden rages of anger. This would often lead to tantrums, crying and after being sent to my room, a lack of further engagement into the ever present opportunity to learn from my surroundings. After choosing to learn an instrument, this all changed. I now had something to focus my energy on and reason to dedicate my time to something fun and exciting. I didn’t realise the connection at the time, but I then started to enjoy school more. I started to behave better in class and excel in every subject. After years of instrument training, and subconscious ‘brain fade’ learning, I left school as Head Boy with straight As and have to put that largely down to a decision my my parents and I made at 8 years old.
So, which subjects are really the most academic and beneficial to a child’s development and education? Of course all subjects are important, but the transferable skills developed during musical training are the key to success across a plethora of subjects.
If you are interested in your child starting their musical journey, then I invite you to check out our website and in particular our Future Rockstars Scheme.
Thanks for reading! I hope you find some of the insights into my personal experience useful. If you have any questions I am always happy to help! You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org