Teachers have long observed the effect that music education can have on students, but recent research is showing just how integral learning a musical instrument is to a child’s development.
Exposure to music lessons physically stimulates the brain and changes it for the better. However, simply being exposed to music education doesn’t seem to be sufficient, you have to also be actively involved. That’s the philosophy of Hettie Halstead Elementary School music teacher Paige Mitchell.
“I’ve loved music since I was a little girl,” Mitchell said. “My mother started me in piano lessons when I was 5 years old. Both of my parents were also music teachers and many relatives have a talent for instrumental or vocal music. I grew up with this love and wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Mitchell is instilling the love of music into students at a very young age. Second-graders are already learning to play the xylophone and enjoying it. They are learning that each key has a different sound and when played together, they create a melody of music.
Second-grader Sydney Marsh said she “loves” music.
“I get to feel the way the beat is, and I like playing in front of my class as well,” Sydney said, not realizing her music education was also making her smarter in her school subjects across the board.
According to the Medical Daily, music education has resulted in greater gains in speech processing, and therefore in reading. The type of music education offered also resulted in how big of an advancement the students would make.
For example, learning to play a musical instrument rather than just taking music appreciation courses resulted in students developing stronger language skills. Young children saw an increase in IQ of one-sixth of a point, such that six years of lessons was associated with an increase in IQ of 7.5 points, an additional month of music lessons was compared with children who did not have the same amount of musical instruction.
For the college students, six years of playing music regularly as a child predicted an increase of two points in IQ over their peers.
“I am hoping to set a precedent that learning about music can be fun,” Mitchell said. “Music is a big part of our lives and I want the students to embrace the enjoyment. Instruments are necessary for some music. (Students) should experience a little of what the musicians do when they are playing.”
In recent STAAR results released last week, Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary students scored so well the school received the Texas Education Agency’s highest rating of “met standard.“ The school also exceeded all four index requirements indicating it is meeting the educational needs of all students regardless of race or economic status.