Why Music Education?
To quote the 19th Century philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Music has a noteworthy interaction with the brain and our emotions. Because there is no single part of the brain reserved for music, all parts of the brain (i.e., central, peripheral, left hemisphere, and right hemisphere) function when listening to and performing music. The entire nervous system, including auditory, kinesthetic, and visual areas, is hardwired for all people to learn and perform. Music can trigger personalities, memories, associations, emotions, and expectations. All areas of music - listening, performing, and observing - can be improved and refined through music education (Notes and Neurons).
The brain teaches us about music and music teaches us about the brain. Music has the profound capacity to influence and alter the human experience.
- Daniel Levitan, Neuroscientist
A strong music education can help increase musical aptitude, as well as the nonmusical abilities associated with aptitude. Musical aptitude is associated with literacy and general intelligence (Anvari, Trainor, Woodside, & Levy). Many experimental studies reveal that music lessons have positive associations with verbal ability, spatial ability, reading ability, selective attention, and mathematics achievement (Ho, Cheung, & Chan; Cheek & Smith; Hetland). This connection between the arts and academic achievement will be further illustrated throughout this Report.
Creativity is a natural extension of our enthusiasm.
- Earl Nightingale, International Speaker
Music resembles language because it is a temporal sequence of articulated sound. Expression and intonation parallel that of spoken languages. Music extends from the whole work through the organized linking of significant groups of sounds, the choice of a specific musical phrase, and the individual notes necessary to produce sound. Musical form employs such terms as sentence, phrase, segment, and punctuation. Subordinate phrases are everywhere, voices rise and fall, and all these terms of musical gesture are derived from speech. When Beethoven calls for one of the bagatelles in Opus 33 to be played “parlando” he only makes explicit something that is a universal characteristic of music. Listeners show an ability to recognize three basic emotional expressions from music (i.e., happy, sad, and fearful). This indicates that these emotional expressions conveyed by the musical excerpts can be universally recognized, similar to the largely universal recognition of human emotional facial expression and emotional rhythm, stress, and intonation of connected speech.
Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.
- Anthony Robbins, Motivational Speaker
The North Allegheny School District continues to recognize the importance of a strong music education. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills also recognizes the importance of the arts (including music) in education by defining the Arts as a “Core Subject.” Communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking are what define the Partnership’s “Learning and Innovation Skills.” A comprehensive music education plays a unique role in these “four C’s” as a higher-order skill. Repeated practice and persistence are necessary to develop higher levels of skill, knowledge, and performance. This is evident in Yo-Yo Ma's mastery of the cello, Picasso's immersion in art, and Einstein's deep study of physics. Each expert learned that in the process of learning how to do one thing really well, we learn how to learn. Adaptability, self-direction, social skills, accountability, leadership, and responsibility are all life skills that are fostered through music education. All of these educational themes coupled with “Information Media and Technology” are part of a 21st Century education. The American Management Association (AMA) feels that these critical skills are most important to tomorrow’s workforce and of organizations in the future.
Art and music requires the use of both schematic and procedural knowledge and,therefore, amplify a child’s understanding of self and of the world.
- Jerome Kegan, Ph.D.