Editorial: Importance of music education

The day that I decided to play the clarinet was one of the most important and fateful days of my life. As a 10 year old who tried every sport and afterschool activity but had yet to excel, it seemed that music education was my last resort. Little did I know that the first horribly squeaky note I managed to produce from the clarinet would lead to almost nine years of success as a music student and band member.

As a relatively new student at my private elementary school, I did not have many friends.  I found it difficult to relate to my peers so I became the nerdy outcast amongst a tight-knit group of students.

When I joined band, I was introduced to kids with similar interests who a shared love of music. Band quickly became my favorite class of the day because music education allowed for great friendships to be made through creating music.

A study from Columbia University revealed that students who study the arts are more cooperative with their teachers and peers, have higher levels of self-confidence and are more equipped to express themselves and their ideas.

Wendy L. Sims, director of Music Education at the University of Missouri School of Music, believes music education has many social benefits.

“Music study provides [students] with a constructive use of free time and a positive means of self expression. It makes school a more positive environment for some students,” Sims said.

As I advanced on my instrument, my instructors put an emphasis on the importance of expression through music. I learned to view it as an art form that I could use to express my feelings and to relieve stress.

Behind my clarinet, I was also able to perform in front of large audiences, which greatly increased my confidence not only as a musician but as a student required to give presentations in classes or speak in a large group.

Although I have always been a good student who has taken honors and advanced placement classes in school, I recently learned a correlation between academics and music instruction.  There are many statistics that show that music education has a positive impact on traditional education.

According to an a 2006 study in the Journal of Research in Music Education, students in top-quality music programs scored 22 percent better in English and 20 percent better in math than students in deficient music programs.

Furthermore, a National Educational Longitudinal Study has shown that high school music students have held a higher grade point average (GPA) than non-musicians in the same school.

Despite these statistics, music programs are often the first to suffer when schools across the nation are forced to cut their budgets. Organizations such as the VH1 Save the Music Foundation work to restore instrumental music education in America’s public schools and assert its importance in a child’s complete education.

In a 2003 Gallup Poll, 95 percent of Americans believed that music is a key component in a child’s well-rounded education.  Three quarters of those surveyed feel that schools should mandate music education.

Because of the intangible benefits I have received from music education and continue to receive as a member of Marching Mizzou at MU, I believe that every elementary and middle school should have a music program and should strongly promote students’ participation in the arts.

Grammy award-winning jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis once said, “Education works on many levels.  It must inform and excite the mind, as well as nourish the spirit.  Music is a key part of that education.”

Natalie Helms

About the Author Natalie Helms

As a science and agricultural journalism major and eager freshman, I am excited to begin my writing career at the University of Missouri. I am from a large suburb south of Chicago called Orland Park, and I am the first in my family to travel to Missouri for school, let alone major in an agriculture-related field unusual for my urban/suburban background. As a writer for CAFNR Corner Post, I hope to provide the CAFNR community with credible and intriguing information while acquiring the necessary skills for success in the science and agricultural journalism industry.