CHAPTER I: THE PROBLEM
During the Music Educators National Conference, Royer (1994) spoke about music to music educators across the country. The author speaks on Justify Your Program which he yearned to do across the country. In his words he states that,
Music can be considered a universal language. It affirms the diversity of human experience across cultures. It unites the human family, revealing profound common experiences in a language that can be understood by all. It stimulates the mind, opens the eyes to inspired vision, and stirs the deepest yearnings of the human spirit. Music is also the language of young children, and if civility is to be sustained, the teaching of music in all its richness surely must be at the very heart of the core curriculum in every school (p. 1).
In order to get a well-rounded education, music must be part of the equation. Research provided strong evidence on music curriculum, assisting students in developing the skills necessary for academic achievement. A very successful pamphlet, National Leaders Speak for Music, stated that the importance for all students to receive music instruction while in school is affirmed by many national figures. Music has so many positive characteristics to offer, such as promoting higher-order thinking skills, fostering discipline and commitment, preparing students for a career, etc., and enabling this type of instruction is a key factor in all educational spectrums. “Importantly, music contributes in positive ways to children’s lives, and many recognize—even in their youth and inexperience—that they could not live without it” (Campbell, 1998, p. 175). Music generates valuable information in customizing instruction relevant to children’s needs and interests (Campbell, 2002).
Music is a powerful phenomenon, and we see how it stimulates, relaxes, and inspires children, how it brings tremendous shifts of mood to those within its circle of influence. It can perk the lethargic child, inspirit the unmotivated child, and draw the introverted child into a sociable circle of friends. (Campbell, 1998, p. 197)
Talking about music is a fact of life. “Where there’s music, there are people who talk about what it sounds like, how it feels, what it does, who makes it, and how well they make it” (Campbell, 1998, p. 71). Children are surrounded by musical sounds, whether at school, at home, in stores, and in various public places. Most of the time children are listening to music, consciously or not. When musicians played music, a high-level thinking process is involved. Musicians must follow a sequence of notes (left brain process), a pattern of phrases, rhythmic patterns (right brain process), and then utilize mathematical abilities such as timing, counting, and keeping the beat. The many attributes in musical playing developed an immense flexibility in thinking (Campbell, 1998).
Despite increasing research that identifies music as a valuable educational tool, it continues to be one of the first programs eliminated when budgets are tightened across districts. The benefits of music education are overlooked by many who have the power to make it a core subject because they consider it an extra-curricular activity. One benefit from music development is the generation of higher order thinking skills such as problem solving and meta-cognitive reflection — qualities that can help develop cognition. Many studies have shown correlations between music study and higher standardized test scores (Look, 2006).
Opportunities to express self and be creative are other benefits of music instruction. It also can enhance cultural awareness, a quality individuals need to become effective global citizens (Voigt, 1996). Music instruction can help to promote social interactions, and it may be used to enhance communication. Rhythmic structures can aid in speech development because it requires specific timing cues. Singing and speech, though accessed differently by the brain, share many similarities. Ulfarsdottir & Erwin (1999) have stated that,
Expressive and receptive language can be approached by embedding desired responses into song lyrics, followed by fading of the music. In addition, preferred songs, chants, and instruments can be used as motivational tools to elicit eye contact, cause/effect skills, and peer interaction (p.1).
The nature of a music ensemble can provide many opportunities for success. This is because students can take pride in making personal progress on an instrument and performing in concert with a group (Seng, 2001). Indeed, music is an ever-present aspect of daily life. We hear it in various forms on the radio, television, movies, elevators, retail stores, restaurants, on playgrounds, and sidewalks. Most hear it in the course of a day, and many create it, if only by singing in the shower or car. Since music is omnipresent for most, it seems appropriate to many that it should be taught in school (Renaud, 1999).
Music effectively engages children because it is a natural and enjoyable part of their everyday lives…. Music is a developmentally appropriate and socially engaging way to learn (Ringgenberg, 2003, p. 76)
Sequentially, personal issues such as self-esteem, enthusiasm, motivation, and respect enable a better-quality learning environment. Scripp (2002) offered many beneficial examples of reciprocal learning transfer between music and other subject matters. Music not only plays an important role in these issues but the mere fact of the ability to transfer the learning processes. For instance, reading and mathematics skills learned in the general classroom lesson can be applied to reading music and playing rhythms in the music lesson, and the ability to identify patterns in music notation can transfer to identifying patterns in words or colors (Snyder, 2001).
Music plays an integral role in emotional, intellectual, and physical development, and should be a component of every child’s education (Reimer, 2003). Studies alleging that music can improve child development (Mickela, 2000) and statements such as this one by Harvey (2001) have increased society’s interest in the topic: “For anyone to grow up complete, music education is imperative” (p. 1).
Justifying the inclusion of music instruction in the public school core curriculum is a challenge for educators with this value. The history of music education in the United States was initially associated with “a variety of functional values that reflected music’s role in the social, physical, moral, and intellectual development of schoolchildren” (McCarthy & Goble, 2002, p. 19). There was a time in America when music was reserved for the musically gifted in private schools and its sole purpose was to produce competent singers for church services. Music was not offered as an elective in public schools until 1838. Then, the debate centered on whether it belonged or should be required for all. By the mid-1800s, a common curriculum was established, temporarily resolving these issues (Jorgensen, 1995).
Music education in schools during the first half of the twentieth century was meant to augment and reflect the ideals of a cultured and civilized society first presented in the initial founding principles of public education. Following the end of WWII, music educators turned to a branch of philosophy known as aesthetic education, which sought to modernize this topic by adding credibility and respectability to this aspect of the school curriculum (McCarthy & Goble, 2002). After World War II, education reformers renewed the emphasis on math and science, which were considered to be vital to the nation’s survival of the Cold War. The nation’s educational energy became focused on competition with the Soviet Union, and the arts became neglected again. This shift intensified after the launch of Sputnik in 1957. An economic downturn also affected the nation and led to cutbacks in fine arts programs. Since that time, music educators and advocates have campaigned to support music education for all students in public schools (Jorgensen, 1995).
After the 1970s when communities were outgrowing their public schools, the opposite happened. In the late 1980s, a decline in enrollment caused schools to close, finances to be tight, and teacher lay offs. It was at this time that music programs across the county first saw program cutbacks since the growth and acceptance began in the public school system (AMC, 2009). Over the past few years our country has seen some hard financial times, but with some sustained economic growth we are starting to see our economy coming back up. Unfortunately, some school districts are still faced with difficult decisions about program cuts (AMC, 2009). “In the end, the curricular role of music education is a question of priorities-of community decision making. For this reason, recent scientific advances loom large” (AMC, 2009, p. 3). It is through the findings of researchers like Drs. Gordon Shaw and Frances Rauscher that music supervisors now have research to back their advocacy efforts for music education (AMC, 2009).
Research has shown that the connection between music education and cognitive improvement in public schools is of substantial importance (Hodges and O’Connell, 2005; Johnson & Edelson, 2003; Fitzpatrick, 2006; Foley, 2006; Johnson & Memmott, 2006; Hanna, 2007). This research focused on an epistemological search to develop knowledge, which may be lacking in this area due to conflicting information regarding arts education and its effect on both academic performance and personal growth. A successful contextual understanding of music education and cognitive improvement is an important step in the enhancement of student learning (Campbell, 2000). Appropriate academic learning and the socialization of students ultimately enables schools to delivering superior instructional services to the community (Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2004).
Schmidt (2004) indicated that “in too many schools, music is considered an optional or elective pursuit, even a completely expendable one”, (p. 6). Gardner’s child development theories propose that different children learn differently, and that some may not have the potential to grasp a one size fits all traditional educational approach. Under the present classroom system, the vast numbers of children cannot allow for true individualized considerations. Gardner (2003) indicated that profound innovations in technology are required to truly offer an individualized approach. Under the current mandate for the uniform testing of students, there is a duality within a system which both identifies the necessity for a meaningful curriculum while addressing individual needs.
Arts education programs including music programs are at risk in public schools due to state and federal testing requirements which directly impact local funding issues and curricular direction (Conrad et al., 2003). Growing trends in mandated testing and class size reduction affects the amount of time and space available for enrichment programs (Eisner & Day, 2004). Also, the reduction or elimination of music education programs affects the positive unintended consequences of arts education, which appear to influence both academic performance and personal development (Hetland & Winner, 2002; Hodges & O’Connell, 2005).
The consequences of the dissolution of fine arts programs are illustrated in the following timeline. A 1994 study measuring 7,500 university level students found that those majoring in music scored highest in reading as compared with students majoring in biology, chemistry, mathematics and English (Miller & Coen, 1994). Lower socio-economic status students exposed to music education during grades 8-12 showed greater improvement in mathematics, reading, history, and geography test scores, than students who did not receive music education classes (Gardiner, Fox, Jeffrey and Knowles, 1996). The U.S. Department of Education data indicated that students who report consistently high levels of involvement in instrumental music during the middle and high school years show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12 (Catterall, Chapleau & Iwanaga, 1999).
In addition, listening to certain music appeared to enhance the brain’s ability to perform cognitive tasks involving mental rotation (Hetland, 2000). In 2001, the College Entrance Examination Board found that music appreciation students scored 63 points higher on the verbal and 44 points higher on the mathematics sections of the Scholastic Achievement Test (CEEB, 2001). According to a recent poll, schools with music programs have a 90.2% graduation rate while schools without music programs have a 72.9% graduation rate. In addition, schools with music programs have a 93.3% attendance rate as compared with an 84.9% attendance rate at schools without music programs (Harris Poll, 2006).
Many educators recognized high-quality educational systems are needed in order to better prepare students for life beyond the classroom. Students are expected to succeed beyond the limitations of the school system. They must have training and experience in higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills. Educators of today face the challenge of shaping the best content and delivery methods to assist students in academic success. With the research that has been provided on music education, why not integrate music into the curriculum? Children without any music instruction may actually be harming their brains because they are neglecting exposure to non-verbal modes of learning that assist them with skills such as reading, writing, and mathematics without difficulty.
Chapter Two will review literature relevant to music’s effect on brain development, academic achievement, and self esteem. The research on music’s effect is based on studies that have recently been generated in neuroscience laboratories throughout the country (Rauscher et al., 1995). A growing body of research on how music instruction can strengthen students’ academic performance also will be reviewed. The outcomes achieved through music education represent two schools of thought. These are the influence of music education on academic success (Hodges & O’Connell, 2005), and the psychological enhancements that music can make on personal development (Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2004).
Contemporary research has shown an increase in the reporting of a link between cognitive performance and music education (Hanna, 2007). Academic literature has indicated that exposure to classical music prior to testing has produced measurable temporary cognitive improvements (Fitzpatrick, 2006). Furthermore, an extended curriculum can lead to an increase in spatial and temporal reasoning skills (Shaw, 2004). This phenomenon often cited as the ‘Mozart Effect’ has spawned several theoretical aspects of music education and the relationship of this learning to non-arts subjects and personal development (Colwell, 1992; Hetland & Winner, 2002).
There are reports of enhanced performance in reading and mathematics (Edelson, & Johnson, 2003), the relationship of brain functioning to abstract cognitive skills (Rauscher, Shaw, & Ky, 1993), the significance of spatial/temporal reasoning for advanced mathematics (Petress, 2005), and ultimately, the role of educational responsibility (McCarthy & Goble, 2002). For example, in a 2004 study conducted by Carlson, Gray, & Thompson, (2004), music used to induce relaxation in third grade readers, produced a two to three grade level improvement in reading. Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham (2004) investigated the relationship between the arts, personality and judgment and found that art judgment was significantly related to both personality and intelligence.
In a study of fourth graders, Haley (2001) discovered that band members who had received instrumental instruction performed better than non-instrumentalists in math achievement. Matthews (2001) found that the incorporation of the arts into reading did improve the reading skills of upper level elementary students, but not lower ones. Whitehead (2001) conducted research on the Orff-Schulwerk instructional method (music curriculum emphasizing performance improvisation over traditional rote fundamentals) and found a correlation between participating middle and high school students and increased mathematics scores. Duke (2000) offered that music and arts training in general is an “integral and fundamental aspect of human communication and expression”, and a necessary component of “understanding culture and society while teaching auditory and visual discrimination” (p.6).
Neuharth (2000) indicated that music participants have higher reading scores, but no improvement in mathematics, while Kluball (2000) offered that instrumental experience provided higher achievement in mathematics and science, but not in reading. Rauscher (2000) found that kindergarteners improved in a measure of spatial/temporal intelligence after four months of musical keyboard training. Cheek and Smith (1999) compared eighth graders mathematics scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and discovered higher scores among student that had instrumental training for two or more years, with keyboard students having the highest scores. Trent (1996) indicated that sixth through twelfth graders who participated in instrumental school programs had higher scores on standardized tests than non-instrumentalists.
Successive studies explored whether exposing students to varying styles of classical music or music educational training can produce a measurable cognitive spatial/temporal effect (Shaw, 2004). Furthermore, the effects of music on social competencies and personal development have also been studied (Deasey, 2002). In review of these suppositions, the consequences of a reduction or elimination of fine arts programs on student learning and socialization is a concern (Hetland & Winner, 2002; Johnson & Memmott, 2006).
The interest related to the effectiveness of music education and cognitive improvement must also include factors outside the realm of spatial-temporal thinking (Grandin, Peterson & Shaw, 1998), and unintended effects of music education (Johnson & Memmott, 2006). These issues included the language-analytic vs. spatial-temporal learning, and the unintended consequences or non-musical outcomes of arts education (Conrad, 2003).
Most of the literature will be quantitative, since the amount of qualitative research on the effect of music on brain development and academic achievement is limited. Thus, there is a gap in the literature, indicating a need for more qualitative research to help the educational community understand the impacts of music instruction on student’s learning and school lives.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate student’s experiences in music instruction- – as it relates to their attitudes toward music and school. While research in this area has suggested a positive relationship between exposure to music and cognitive abilities (spatial, temporal, mathematical, and language), there is limited research that explores whether learning to play a musical instrument supports academic achievement or student’s sense of self.
How can a music education make an impact on high-school student’s academic learning?
What useful music understandings and skills will the music educators gain from sources besides the normal high-school training courses?
What are the most promising ways for strengthening music education practices?
What are the effects of music education in learning non-musical subjects?
How can a music education boost the student’s self-esteem?
How can music education improve the student’s team playing skills?
How can music education improve the student’s social skills?
How can music education improve a student’s cognitive skills?
What role does music play in improving a student’s concentration and memory skills?
What influence does music have on the student’s future prospects?
Significance of Study
As more teachers become aware of the positive benefits of music, and begin to implement it at its full potential, more efficient and effective learning activities will take place. None of the literature reviewed for this research demonstrated evidence of detrimental effects on students associated with music education; furthermore, there was only beneficial information found. Therefore, continued implementation of music into the curriculum should be evident (Campbell, 1998). From the perspective of musicians and music educators, music is imperative to children’s education. Music instruction contributed to cultivating the whole child (Campbell, 2002).
Scripp (2002) explained how disciplines can support each other by strengthening and intensifying the learning from one discipline to another. He also found that reciprocity is possible because music is likely to benefit from strong instruction in the academics, and academic performance is likely to benefit from strong musical instruction. Snyder (2001), also stated similar associations, “connection, correlation, and integration are three meaningful ways to link disciplines of intelligences, including the linking of music with other disciplines” (p. 34), and what better way to educate when connections can be transferred and applied to real-life settings, thus leading to authentic engagement.
The literature provided implied music education is a necessary component of the curriculum in order to assist students in achieving high academic success (Mickela, 2000). With the issues of accountability for student achievement, it seemed educators would consider implementing music into their instruction with hopes of reaching more success. The focus on music instruction is worth consideration, although many educators are skeptical to try it because of old habits, time constraints, and very few models in place. Nonetheless, by raising awareness of its benefits through literature, case studies, and models, many educators will begin to implement music into their instruction.
This study will include a small sample of 40 students and 5 instructors. The results may only be applicable by these participants.
Definition of Terms
Certain terms used in this study are defined to avoid misunderstanding.
Classical music – A categorical reference to western European art music of the era between the years 1750 and 1820 and is represented by the compositions of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Joseph Haydn, Ludwig Van Beethoven, their contemporaries and successors. This era falls between the baroque and romantic styles of western music (Campbell, 2002).
Instrumental music – Music to be performed by instruments of a band or orchestra.
Kodaly method – A system of music education that evolved from the Hungarian schools under the inspiration and guidance of Zoltan Kodaly, a prominent Hungarian composer and musician who was determined to reform the teaching of music and to make it an integral part of the education of every child (DeVries, 2001).
Orchestra – “an instrumental ensemble, usually fairly large with string, brass, woodwind sections, and possibly a percussion section as well” (Wikipedia, n.d.)
Mozart Effect – A term used to refer to the increase in brain development that happens with children who are under age 3 when they listen to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus (Bauman & Coutu 2000).
Music Education –“is a field of study associated with the teaching and learning of music” (Randal, 1986). Music education: The National Association for Music Education created nine content standards for music education called the National Standards for Music Education which were adopted in 1994. These are listed as:
1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
5. Reading and notating music.
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
7. Evaluating music and music performances.
8. Understanding relationships between music, other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture (NAME, 1994).
Project Zero – a research group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that has dedicated over 30 years to research in arts and education.
Repertoire – The stock of songs, plays, operas, readings, or other pieces that a player or company is prepared to perform.
Students – for the purpose of this paper, this term refers to the students who are in high school.
In Chapter One, it was reviewed how music can be a critical educational tool, its benefits of that are often overlooked. The purpose of the study, the research questions, limitations and definitions of terms were also set. In Chapter Two, It will be expounded on how the study of music can help enhance all academic achievement levels. This chapter also contains the different researchers and theories to support the issue. Chapter Three contained the examination of the effects of music education on students towards music with a description of the methodology and procedures for the project.
After decades of reform, educational policy makers are just beginning to acknowledge that there has been little improvement in student achievement regardless of subject matter. Yet, research has shown that music study can impact it. If music were included in the core curriculum, it might help to enhance all academic achievement levels (Yoh, 2001). Some educators are beginning to believe that music is a form of intelligence. As a result of research conducted by Gardner (2000), researchers and educators are using a theory of multiple intelligences to state that any or all intelligences can be developed.
Children seem to have a natural curiosity and attraction for musical experiences. The expendable nature of music under a modern educational system is a modern concern (Campbell, 2002). Campbell writes of the non academic benefits of music education which include community involvement skills, visual and aural recollection, emotional expression, stress reduction, and the ability to interact with compassion. Campbell (2002) additionally stated that “Music is responsible for an increase in neural connections which stimulates verbal skills, while offering increases in reading and math skills, and memorization” (p.4). Gardner (2003) compared musical intelligence and it’s relationship to spatial intelligence and linguistic ability while lending credibility to Campbell’s propositions that music enhances learning, physical health, and healing.
Gardner’s theories are important for understanding the relationship of music and education in general. Music can become a tool for teachers just as it is a tool for learning to some people. Music can provide strategies and structures that can reinforce learning of important ideas, information, and ways of thinking. For many students, music and music education may tap into underdeveloped abilities. In other words, music may help children learn beyond the contexts in which their musical intelligence is usually channeled (Gardner, 2000).
Rauscher et al. (1995) has stated that,
Those who consider music an extra-curricular activity unworthy of inclusion as a core subject are overlooking the benefits of it for children. However, if music is to become an integral part of education, those responsible for curricular decisions must become aware of its artistic worth in classrooms (p.4).
According to Colwell and Davidson (1996), music education is as essential to a complete education as are traditional core subjects.
This chapter reviews literature relevant to the topics of music and brain development. It also reviews the research on the impact of music on mastery of academic content.
Musical Stimulation between Birth and Age Six
Children’s initial musical experiences are vital to development according to Heyge (1996), who stated that musical experiences could be viewed as a “pre-clinical dose of treatment utilizing speech, motor development and sensory integration” (p. 6). Although scientists, therapists, parents, teachers, and music experts may have different reasons for exposing children to music, the benefits of it, within the “window of opportunity” are considered to be positive for children (Heyge, 1996, p. 6).
Several studies have examined the effects of systematic prenatal musical stimulation by observing musical behaviors exhibited between birth and the age of six (Diamond & Hopson, 1998; Linton, 1999). Linton (1999) tried to determine the effects of daily music on fetuses and newborns. The test-group fetuses were monitored for fetal movements and heart rate for several weeks. After 10 minutes of monitoring with no stimulus, headphones were secured to the mothers’ abdomen and covered with a pillow, and a tape was played. The mothers were asked to write down the number and types of movements their fetuses made for each type of music played. The mothers were prevented from hearing the tape in order to limit their record keeping to a purely fetal response. The four items on the test tape were: five minutes of white noise; piano solo: Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, op. 31 no. 2, in D minor (The Tempest); choral (a cappella): Palestrina’s Kyrie from Missa Pape Marcelli; and rock (instrumental): Anthology, by Emerson, Lake and Palmer (2001).
The mothers were also given a tape of either item 2 or 3 to play for their fetuses on a daily basis from 32 weeks gestations to six weeks after birth. The contents of the test tape and the home tape were not revealed to the women until a home visit was made 4 to 6 weeks after birth. The control group of pregnant women was given no specific listening tasks and was monitored for a shorter length of time.
At six weeks, the babies of both groups were again monitored while the tapes were played. They were scored on the number of eye movements and physical (frowning and anxious) or emotional responses. The babies in the test group were more ready to listen, more receptive and alert, and more active in response to the music than the control group babies. They listened more attentively to the piano sonata and the choral piece. They were less disturbed than the control group by the rock music (though both groups demonstrated anxiety through facial and body tension).
A number of the test babies appeared to recognize the sound of the piano in rock music, thereby relaxing the body and facial tension during the several bars in which it appeared, but the tension quickly returned when the other instruments resumed. Thus, fetal responses varied according to the music played (Linton, 1999). The study revealed that a high percentage of test-group fetuses had heart-rate decelerations greater than or equal to five seconds. This was highly significant in comparison with the test group, indicating that the daily playing of music influenced fetal responses (Linton, 1999).
Black (1997) reported evidence that infants respond easily to music when they are newly born. Studies show that early and ongoing musical training can help organize and develop children’s brains. In a study to determine the effect of systematic prenatal musical stimulation by observing musical behaviors exhibited between birth and 6, Shetler (1989) found that infants who received systematic prenatal musical stimulation exhibited “remarkable attention behaviors. Those infants could imitate accurately sounds made by adults (including non-family members), and appear to structure vocalization much earlier than infants who did not have prenatal musical training” (p. 21).
Music’s effects on learning and creativity were measured in Riggs’ (2000) study involving 4-and 5-year-olds. The music/dance group showed the greatest improvement in learning about body parts and creativity after 20 days of training. It was assumed that neural connections were enhanced due to exposure to music-enriching experiences.
In a study about mothers’ beliefs and uses of music in the nursery, Mallet (1998) found that the tradition of singing to infants still persists, even with changes in lifestyles. This study had two purposes. The first purpose was to describe mothers and caretakers’ uses of music in natural settings, including a full report of singing and listening activities, styles of music selected and best time to sing and play music within the infant’s routine. The second purpose was to investigate whether parents and caretakers agreed about what types of music were appropriate for infants.
The overall musical behaviors of several mothers were quite similar despite cultural differences, age, occupation, and maternal experience. Styles of music and best time for musical activities varied from family to family. In addition, mothers whose native language was not English or French reported singing in their own language more often than in English or French. A negative correlation was found between time spent daily with the infant and average music listening. This suggests that mothers in the sample could spend more time doing musical activities with their infants if they took the time (Mallet, 1998).
The majority of parents agreed that music had a positive effect on their baby’s behavior after birth in another study about prenatal music, by Galliford (2002). This study’s purpose was to determine if a prenatal music class would influence participating parents to continue to provide musical experiences for babies after birth. A small group of parents with similar due dates participated in the study. A music specialist taught a prenatal music class. Parents were asked to complete a questionnaire following the birth of the babies. All respondents agreed that participation in the class enhanced their knowledge of prenatal musical experiences. All respondents also agreed that exposure and participation in music is important since music contributes to the development of their children. Most respondents agreed that they had increased the amount of time music was played in their home environment due to participation in the prenatal music class. Before the study, only three of five families enrolled their children in an early childhood music class (Galliford, 2002).
Numerous studies have shown strong connections between music and the development of the brain. The association with music connects and develops the motor systems of the brain in a manner that cannot be done by any other activity. Data from UCLA brain scan research showed music fully engages brain functions (both left and right hemisphere) more than any other activities. Between the ages of six and eight a period of dramatic growth will occur in the child’s brain. The growth is so great, midway through the process (about seven years old), the skull grows in size. As the child receives more exposure to music, the deeper and more successful this neural integration becomes. Children normally encounter their first live musical experience from their mothers during infancy through lullaby songs (Campbell, 1998).
For example, babies that are zero to five years old have been studied and observed on the positive effects of music. Astonishingly, studies have found if you sing a note to a three month old, the baby is likely to sing the same tone back to you in almost perfect pitch. This awareness in different tones helped an infant learn to recognize the beginnings and ends of sentences. Adults, particularly when they speak to infants, speak in a slightly lower pitch at the end of a sentence and a higher pitch at the beginning of a sentence or when they ask a question (Campbell, 2002).
Music and Brain Development
There are several studies showing a connection between music and the development of the brain. Weinberger (1999) has done extensive research on the benefits of music to the brain. His article focused on two areas: (a) benefits of music on cognitive development and (b) brain research linking musical capabilities and benefits for learning and education. The brain studies exposed the basic music elements, such as melody, rhythm, harmony, and timbre are processed by diverse, specialized parts of the brain. Music engages both hemispheres of the brain, which is more involvement than language processing. These studies exposed an extensive connection and specialization in brain organization when processing music.
According to Weinberger, there are eight major components of the brain, they are:sensory and perceptual; cognitive; planning movements; motor; feedback/evaluation; motivational; learning; memory (p. 12) Music utilized all of these areas of the brain delivering a type of brain “workout.” Music initiated interactions between cells and intensifies synapses, resulting in enhanced brain function (Weinberger, 1999).
Mickela (2000) presented research proposing evidence that music experiences increased brain development. A study by Whitwell on the left brain/right brain subject, confirmed that music impacts brain development, used both hemispheres, and is essential for complete development. A neurology clinical professor described comparable results and claimed these studies would lead to an understanding that music is inevitable for the total development of the brain and the individual (Mickela, 2000).
Further study has shown music performance developed the intellect (Campbell, 2002). The brain is being trained in aesthetic literacy, the students’ perceptual, imaginative and visual abilities. In order to clarify the left/right brain issue, when you carry on a conversation about music, you are using the left side of the brain and when you creatively produce a sound, you are utilizing the right side of the brain. Producing a sound can be playing a simple rhythmic pattern on a hand drum, triangle, maracas, etc. or singing; it does not necessarily mean sitting at the piano and performing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Researchers have joked about the idea when music is not implemented; the educational system is only educating half a brain (Campbell, 2002). Research has demonstrated musicians’ brains are literally different from the brains of non-musicians, possibly due to their daily experience of combined mental and sensory learning (Campbell, 2002).
Three major developments have strengthened music educators’ views of music as an important research-supported discipline that should be at the core of curriculum: First, research on how music contributes to brain development has opened new vistas for all educators. Second, Gardner’s (2000) theory of multiple intelligences has changed the assumptions of many educators about how we learn. Third, research of Rauscher et al. (1995) on the Mozart Effect has generated important questions about how to help students retain information better (Harvey, 1997).
The February 1997 issue of Neurological Research reported that music training, particularly piano instruction, enhances the abstract reasoning skills necessary for children to learn math and science. It also was reported that music training could be more effective than computer instruction for teaching these skills. The findings were the result of a two-year experiment with preschoolers by Rauscher et al. (1997). They also compared the effects of musical and non-musical training on intellectual development as a follow-up to their studies on music’s ability to enhance spatial-reasoning. They concluded that music enhanced brain functions that were required for learning mathematics, chess, science, and engineering.
Rauscher et al. (1997) have noted that although it has been assumed that young students have difficulty understanding concepts of proportion used in math and science, no successful school programs developed that could help teach these concepts.
A study at the University of Munster in Germany expanded this time which have examined images of the auditory brain regions of musicians and non-musicians. Thus it was concluded that music should be encouraged in early childhood education because of this impact. Several studies have explored how the brain is affected by exposure to particular kinds of music. Rauscher et al. (1993) examined how learning to sing affects the spatial-temporal skills of pre-school children. Thus, researchers concluded that participants who had weekly keyboard lessons improved their spatial-temporal skills over those who received only computer or group singing lessons. This research led the authors to believe that the brain performs certain tasks related to learning and memory by musical form, shape, and timing. Therefore, they concluded that music enhances creativity and learning functions in new and potentially more productive ways.
Alexjander (1992) has theorized that “the mathematical formula that characterizes the ebb and flow of music exists widely in nature, from the flow of the Nile to the beating of the human heart, to the wobbling of the earth on its axis” (p. 3). This same mathematical relationship can be found in other natural phenomena, such as changes in the growth of tree rings (Gardiner et al., 1996). Rauscher et al. (1993) have found the research of Voss and Clark’s (1975) to be similar to that of the ancient philosophers, who believed that music was “in harmony with the cosmos” (p. 3).
Several studies have suggested that beginning music training early corresponds to greater growth in certain areas of the brain (Schlaug, Jäncke, Huang, & Steinmetz, 1995). For example, in Germany identified the planum temporale, a part of the left hemisphere, as the region of the brain responsible for perfect pitch and speech. This team used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at the planum temporale in non-musicians and professional musicians, some with perfect pitch and some without it. They discovered that the planum temporale in those with perfect pitch was twice as large as the other groups. Also, the majority with perfect pitch had started music lessons before age seven.
Rauscher et al. (1997) found that musicians had thicker nerve fibers in the corpus callosum, the part of the brain that carries signals between the two hemispheres, if they started training before the age of seven. Babo (2001) discussed researchers’ work at the University of Konstanz in Germany which found that exposure to music helped to rewire neural circuits. They concluded that the brains of pianists were more efficient at making skilled movements than the brains of others. These findings suggested that musical training could enhance brain function (Weinberger, 2000).
Schlaug et al. (1995) used MRI to discover that musicians who started studying music before the age of 7 had regions in their brains (the corpus callosum and the right motor cortex) that were larger than corresponding regions in both non-musicians and musicians whose training began at a later age. However, in response to questions about his study, Schlaug et al. preferred not to recommend when music should be taught, since some very skilled musicians began performing in their twenties or thirties. Schlaug et al. also reported that most musicians who have perfect pitch started music lessons before the age of seven. However, according to Diamond and Hopson (1998), “early music training is associated with more growth in this one particular brain region…. if training starts later or is absent altogether, perfect pitch rarely shows up” (p. 4).
Some studies that combine the features of controlled behavioral studies and neurological research show how music study can actively contribute to brain development. In a study conducted by Krings (2000), pianists and non-musicians of the same age and gender were required to perform complex sequences of finger movements. Their brains were scanned using a technique called “functional magnetic resource imaging” (p. 4), which detects activity levels of brain cells. Though the non-musicians were able to make the sequences of finger movements as well as the pianists, less activity was detected in the pianists’ brains (Rauscher et al., 1995).
According to Ratey (2001),
The musician is constantly adjusting decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling–training the brain to become incredibly good at organizing and conducting numerous activities at once. Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attentional skills, intelligence, and ability for self-knowledge and expression (p. 4).
Theory of Multiple Intelligences
The preceding section reviewed literature on the relationship of music to brain development. Howard Gardner’s (2000) research on intelligence is believed to be fundamental to understanding the critical role music can play in education. Gardner proposed that there are eight basic intelligences: linguistic; logical-mathematical; spatial; bodily-kinesthetic; musical; interpersonal; intrapersonal; and naturalist.
Gardner published “To Open Minds” in 1989 and “Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice” in 1993. He believed that music might be a special intelligence that should be viewed differently from other intelligences. He stated that musical intelligence may be more emotional, spiritual and cultural than the other kinds of intelligence. Most importantly, he assumed that music could help some organize the way they think and work by helping them develop in other areas, such as math, language, and spatial reasoning. Gardner criticized school districts that sacrificed music in children’s education, calling them “arrogant and ignorant about the value of music education” (Gardner, 1993, p. 142).
Marks-Tarlow (1995) found that preschool children who were taught with the aid of games and songs could have IQ scores 10 to 20 points higher than peers who were denied access to these strategies. A study conducted by Rauscher et al. (1997) showed that participants who took daily group singing lessons and weekly private lessons scored higher in object-assembly skills than students who did not have these experiences.
A report by Langstaff and Mayer (1996) offered justification for the importance of music education in early childhood. According to the authors, neuron circuits that permit perceptual and sensory discriminations, such as identifying pitch and rhythm, become closed off at approximately age 11. If these neuron circuits are not used, tone deafness and the inability to reflect rhythmic activities may result.
The Mozart Effect
The phenomenon often cited within the literature as the ‘Mozart Effect’ commenced with the research of Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1993), who discovered an increase in intelligence scores following the exposure of students to a specific work by Mozart. The resulting supplemental research which grew from this initial study, gave rise to several theoretical aspects of musical training. These include increased performance in science and mathematics, and the relationship of brain functioning to the development of abstract cognitive skills, identified as spatial and temporal reasoning.
Rauscher et al. (1993) used the term Mozart effect to describe the results of their study on the relationship between music and spatial task performance. It is based on the ear’s role in the development of movement, balance, language and pre-verbal communication as well as the integration of neurological responses stimulated by music The Mozart effect also refers to the way music is used to enhance the quality of life. For example, music aids in obtaining good health, education, and creativity (Campbell, 2002).
Rauscher et al. (1997) gave a group of college students three 10-minute-long sets of standard IQ spatial reasoning tasks: listening to a Mozart sonata for two pianos, listening to a relaxation tape, and sitting through silence. The results showed that the individuals who listened to Mozart had a distinct advantage in spatial task performance. Shaw (2004) noted that students performed better “on the abstract/spatial reasoning tests after listening to Mozart than after listening to either the relaxation tape or to nothing” (p. 2).
Although conditions differed significantly between music, silence, and relaxation, Shaw and his colleagues were careful to qualify the study results. Although spatial reasoning test scores rose as a result of listening to Mozart’s piano sonata in D major (K488), the effects were temporary. Shaw (2004) noted that “the enhancing effect of the music condition is temporary, and does not extend beyond the 10-15 minute period during which subjects were engaged in each spatial task” (Rauscher et al., 1993, p. 2). The authors posed several questions for further research:
Could varying the amount of listening time optimize the Mozart effect? Could listening to Mozart also enhance other intelligence measures such as short-term memory, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning? Would other kinds of music have an effect on IQ performance (Shaw, 2004, p. 2).
Though the answers to these questions were unclear, the authors concluded that music lacking in complexity failed to enhance performance. They also concluded that the complexity of Mozart’s music was responsible for its enhancing effect. Rauscher et al. replicated and extended these findings in 1995. They used the same tasks used in their first experiment but extended the types of listening examples used. College students were divided into 3 groups: those exposed to silence, the same Mozart music used in the 1993 study, and a piece by Philip Glass. As before, the Mozart group showed a significant increase in spatial IQ scores.
The Mozart Effect is described as a measurable connection between music and mathematics using human cognition to stimulate the spatial and temporal areas of the brain (Shaw, 2004). Shaw stated that, “music and mathematics are causally linked through the built-in, innate ability of the brain to recognize symmetries and use them to see how patterns develop in space and time”, (p. 186). Shaw asserted that there is a difference between spatial-temporal math reasoning and language-analytic math reasoning especially with regard to the notion that music and spatial-temporal math are connected on a cognitive level. This concept presupposes that the traditional language-analytic approach to education neglects the mental visualization necessary to succeed in conceptual mathematics described by Shaw as mental imaging or thinking in pictures.
Shaw (2004) further indicated that autistic learners are not capable of traditional learning in a language-analytic environment, but excel in technology and science due to their spatial-temporal coping skills necessary for learning. In a meta-analysis by Hetland and Winner (2002) the authors prepared a quantitative compilation of ten meta-analytic research studies which were designed to illustrate Cognitive Transfer from Arts Education to Non-Arts Outcomes: Research and Policy Implications. As a summary, the following inferences were drawn from a synthesis of the article which dealt with Classroom Drama and Verbal Skills, Music Listening and Spatial Reasoning, and Music Learning and Spatial Reasoning.
Tomatis, a French physician, psychologist, and educator, researched the connection between early childhood development in the 1960s and the music of Mozart (Lushington & Thompson, 1996). Steele (2000) repeated this study: college students listened to a Mozart sonata then performed complicated visual tasks involving cutting and folding paper. However, there was no difference in the way these tasks were performed by either the students who listened to the sonata or the control groups who just relaxed before taking the test or listened to other kinds of music.
Viadero (1998) pointed out that the studies on music instruction insubstantial overall because researchers only tried to repeat and extend their findings. For example, no one knew exactly which kind of musical training produced results and which kinds did not, who benefited most from it, and how long any intellectual gains resulting from music training lasted.
In another study, Chabris (1999) reviewed previous studies and compared the effects of the Mozart recordings. Results revealed a statistically insignificant increase in the ability of individuals to complete tasks requiring spatial visualization skills and abstract reasoning. Chabris noted that “if listening to Mozart improves cognitive performance at all, it’s by improving overall cognitive arousal and concentration. It shouldn’t be viewed as an intellectual miracle drug” (p. 1).
Steele (2001) agreed with Chabris, by stating that “there is a problem with the concept of classical music as Gatorade for the brain” (p. 1). A number of other researchers (Cromie, 1999; Jones, 1999; Kliewer, 1999; Zehr, 2000) supported the belief that classical music does not increase basic intelligence. Rauscher et al. (1995) noted that because many researchers only measured the effect on general intelligence instead of on spatial-temporal abilities, they failed when they tried to repeat the original experiment. However, Rauscher and her collegues did agree with critics such as Cromie, Jones, and Kliewer (1999) that there is no evidence that playing Mozart in the nursery will raise an infant’s IQ.
Ivanov and Geake, (2003) conducted research along the lines of the original Rauscher and Shaw study which purports that merely listening to specific selections of classical music will enhance the cognitive performance of upper primary school children. In this example, children were exposed to either no music or selections consisting of the initial Mozart piece and an alternate selection by Bach, and then subjected to a paper folding task. The task consisted of visualizing how a folded piece of paper with a hole, would look unfolded. This spatial-temporal task was conducted untimed, with the majority of subjects finishing the task within 10 minutes. In addition, these researchers included a ‘prior exposure to music’ questionnaire.
As a preliminary premise to this study, the researchers indicated four concerns regarding the Mozart Effect: 1). Controversy regarding the effect appears to be born out of a general belief that exposure to classical music enhances basic intelligence; 2). Are the necessary components of the musical selections which cause the effect found in only one of Mozart’s compositions, all of his selections, or other composer’s works? 3). Personal and demographic differences in the research subjects might yield different results; 4). Teachers may not be interested in the actual causes and components of the effect, just the nature of whether the effect is temporary, permanent, or to which subject it best applies (Ivanov &Geake, 2003).
The results of the testing indicated that both the Mozart and Bach groups scored significantly higher on the paper folding test than the control (background noise) group, with the Mozart group scoring modestly higher than the Bach group. In addition, both the prior musical training questionnaire results and the differences in sex and age of the subjects did not appear to offer a significant variance when compared with the task test results (p.410).
Jackson and Tlauka (2004) reviewed the components and concepts of the initial studies, including the premise by Shaw that exposure to complex forms of music resulted in a firing of neural cortical patterns necessary for spatial-temporal cognitive reasoning. This is also known as the ‘trion’ model. After noting the inconsistent attempts by past researchers to fully replicate or improve upon the initial studies, the authors proceeded in the direction that it is necessary for the effect to be reproducible in both lab and real world or natural environments. The intent was for this study to use the initial Mozart piece (K448) and a piece by Philip Glass (Music with Changing Parts), initially identified by the original researchers as inferior in producing the Mozart effect.
There appeared to be no significant difference in the maze performance times following either musical selection. The authors noted that this appeared in conflict with previous studies which denote “performance enhancement with paper and pencil mazes following exposure to the music of Mozart, or in a rat maze study where rats were able to negotiate mazes faster after hearing the music of Mozart”, (p.218). The authors indicated that there are several possibilities which account for their results. First, they speculated that their computerized measurement tools might have been able to detect smaller differences that previous non-computerized studies, or that their measurement components may not have been able to measure the effect at all. In concluding, the authors stated that while some may want to put the Mozart Effect to rest entirely, evidence for the effect has been illustrated during independent testing and there is a possibility that researchers have been unable so far to “discover the critical variables affecting the relationship between music perception and spatial reasoning ability” (p.219).
In an article written to describe the introduction of the Mozart Effect as a scientific legend, Bangerter and Heath (2004) proposed the idea that while the effect was not well received academically, the media perpetuated its success. The author’s explanation of this effect was proposed as three life-cycle phases described as, emergence, growth, and decline. Emergence was listed as a first report of a finding where the information is accurate and where most scientific articles end. Growth was described as the interest in a scientific topic generated outside scientific circles, where the information is reconstructed for a general understanding by non-scientists.
Decline was described as the erosion of general interest, or when the listening public has become oversaturated with information. The findings of the three studies conducted by the authors indicated that the Mozart Effect elicited more interest than reports of similar topics and that this interest persisted for a longer period of time. The effect was discussed more often in states where the quality of primary education was more problematic, and that the Mozart Effect mutated over time which included the adaptations necessary to perpetuate local interest.
Music and Academic Achievement
Research on academic benefits of music has distinctly intensified in the past ten years. An increase in research on the contribution of music to non-music academic achievement has brought much attention to the field of music education. Research findings such as the ones reviewed in this section determine such contributions exist and provide a foundation for analysis into what about music education fosters higher academic achievement. Now, extensive research is occurring in many areas of brain development, specific subject area, enhancement, and skill development.
Eng (2004) discovered that the introduction of music curriculum into public education enhanced learning in both related and unrelated subjects. Researchers found that by including music programs which teach both performance and theory into an educational curriculum, there are measurable improvements in the student’s cognitive abilities relating to spatial-temporal exercises, proportional mathematics, language and vocabulary skills, and behavioral issues (Fitzpatrick, 2006). The elimination of arts programs (especially music programs) can adversely affect the specific course proficiencies which the federal government seeks to measure (Hetland & Winner, 2002; Johnson & Edelson, 2003).
The exposure of musical training can have positive effect on test scores in a variety of situations. For example, sixth through twelfth graders who participated in instrumental school programs had higher scores on standardized tests than non-instrumentalists (Trent, 1996). Neuharth (2000) indicated that music participants have higher reading scores, but no improvement in mathematics. Conversely, Kluball (2000) found that instrumental experience provided higher achievement in mathematics and science, but not in reading. Finally, Haanstra (2000) found no differences between music students and non- music students. There has been some reported success with the use of the Kodaly method of music training in early elementary education (Olson, 2003).
Students create a relationship between how they feel and how they perform academically. Studies examining the issue demonstrated underprivileged, underachieving youth were given music lessons and immediately began to show increased interest in learning activities. The students who were given music education opportunities exhibited improvement in skill development, test scores, fewer tardies, a lower rate of absenteeism, and overall improvement in academic attitude and aspirations (Mickela, 2000). These implications of music education alleviate student problems, which often leads to an increase in academic achievement.
Massachusetts Music News’ fall 1999 issue featured an article on music and academic achievement by Dr. Al Balkin (1999), of Western Michigan University. Dr. Balkin (1999) began his article by saying that,
As educators, no matter what our specialty, we need to recognize that nothing in the curriculum is more important to the child’s early education than those experiences that reinforce the learning of literacy, which includes writing, thinking, talking, listening, and creating, in addition to reading. All of these skills and concepts are crucial to the educational, psychological, and social well-being of the young student (p. 2).
Music programs are often considered unnecessary and a waste of tax money and have been eliminated from many schools in the United States. While the United States spends more than any other nation on education, it does not rank as the highest nation in academic excellence. For example, The Council on Basic Education (Barth, 1993) conducted a study that compared the amount of time devoted to the arts by schools in Germany, Japan, England and the United States. The study revealed that the United States not only trailed the other countries in percentage of time devoted to arts instruction, but it also trailed them in math and science scores (Barth, 1993).
Music has a direct relationship to a school’s entire educational program. It can have a profound influence on science, geography, history, language arts, foreign languages, and physical education. Hungary, one of the world’s poorest countries, ranks first in academic excellence. Unlike American students, Hungarian students are required to study music from kindergarten through the ninth grade. The first four hours of each day are spent studying music, while the afternoon hours are reserved for math, language, and history. It is believed that Hungarian students are able to achieve high grades because their brains have been organized for orderly storage and retrieval of information as a result of music study (Catterall, Chapleau, & Iwanaga, 1999).
As noted previously, exposure to music can help children develop faster emotionally, socially, and even physically. Scientists have used several methods to explore the relationship between music and reasoning abilities. Two of the most popular approaches are brain-imaging techniques and behavioral data.
Kotsopoulou (1997) gave students a questionnaire that focused on their relationships with music in their everyday life. Students were asked to complete a questionnaire concerning how they used music to support their studying habits and their music listening habits. The questionnaire revealed that music was used most often while the students were writing, reading or thinking and least often when they were revising or memorizing information. Those who played music while they studied said that it improved their concentration, relieved boredom, or increased their rate of work. The questionnaire also revealed that some of the students did not listen to music while studying because they believed that it interfered with their work. Overall, the students were aware of the effects of music on aspects of their work and used it to maximize their studying performance.
The College Entrance Examination Board (2001) reported that music students performed more successfully on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) than non-music students. In 1997, College-bound seniors/SAT takers who had taken music classes or who had had experience in music performance scored higher on the verbal and math portions than those with none. The data reports were gathered by The Student Descriptive Questionnaire, a component of the SAT that provided information about students’ academic preparation.
The study “An Answer to Complaints about Pull Outs” (Circle, 1999) investigated the issue of pull outs, a process in which elementary band and string students were pulled out of their regular classes for music instruction. This study aimed to disprove the belief that pull outs interfered with student learning and show the importance of inclusion of music instruction in the academic day. Music teachers were defending the program based on their judgement that students who chose to participate were better students and their academic learning was not harmed. Findings supported the hypothesis that students’ academic achievement levels were higher than those of the general population (Circle, 1999).
Other studies have revealed music’s educational enhancement potential (Cockerton, Moore, & Norman, 1997; Colwell & Davidson, 1996; Kwiatkowski, 2001). One was done with first-graders who showed significantly higher reading scores after receiving piano/music instruction than did a control group who received none (Williams, 2001). Another study indicated that 3- and 4-year-old children who received piano/keyboard training performed higher on tests that measured spatial-temporal ability than others (Graziano, Peterson, & Shaw, 1999).
According to Grandin, Peterson, and Shaw (1999), language-analytic and spatial-temporal reasoning are both important components of thinking. The language-analytic approach for education provides that students receive the necessary information to answer a question. Spatial-temporal reasoning involves, the mental rotation of objects in space and time, looking at sequences and patterns, and thinking ahead. Leng and Shaw (1991) stated in their research that even very young students can benefit from a spatial-temporal approach in the area of proportional reasoning.
Reimer (2003) indicated that music in school may be de-emphasized due to the belief that music itself was of an emotional nature and not subject to academic standards of an intellectual or cognitive nature. This conclusion was drawn from the work of the philosopher Rene Descartes who stated that mathematical pursuits need to be free from unreliable human emotions. Reimer examined the effects of musical training as compared with the National Standards for Music Education. These nine standards consist of singing, instrumental performance, improvisation, composition, reading / notating music, music listening, evaluating music and performance, understanding the relationships of music to other disciplines, and the relationships of music to history and culture (NAME, 1994).
In his look at the National Standards of Music Education in comparison with various research studies, Reimer (2003) found that the first six components of the Standards have been measured as improvements in spatial-temporal learning. The final three components can best be measured through language-analytic learning. Reimer is concerned that the lack of an exclusive spatial-temporal approach to music education can lead to a reduction in areas of music education not deemed critical for spatial-temporal reasoning.
Lamb and Gregory (1993) studied the relationship between the ability to distinguish musical sounds and reading performance. They concluded that children achieving high scores on pitch discrimination also did well with phonemic awareness and performed well when reading. However, this did not conclude that the ability to distinguish pitch differences caused improvements in reading performance. Carlson, Hoffman, Gray, and Thompson (2005) found that music used to induce relaxation in third grade readers produced a two to three grade level improvement in reading comprehension, word recognition, and accuracy as measured by the Reading Inventory for the Classroom and the San Diego Quick Assessment Test.
Catterall (1998) observed differences between 8th– and 10th-grade students’ high versus low arts performance and general performance. He noted that academic performance was more pronounced among the 10th-grade students. The test scores were higher for those students who were highly involved in music. However, he explained that, while these findings were impressive, other factors such as high versus low socioeconomic status (SES) also needed to be examined. Students of families whose incomes were in the highest quartiles were twice as likely to be involved in art as those whose families were in the lowest quartile. After comparing test results, Catterall noted that the percentage changes were the same for all students.
Chang’s (2000) meta-analysis of studies relating music instruction and reading competency draws very similar, although not identical, conclusions. She presents dozens of studies that show that music training assists reading acquisition in six different areas: power of prediction, whole-to-part strategy, awareness of rhythm, rhyme and phonological awareness, transfer of learning between similar symbol systems, and eye span and movement (Chang, 2000). Although she found that not all studies find decisive connections between music training and reading improvements, she concludes that a large majority of students will be helped by some formal training in music, whether in or out of school:
None of the literature reviewed here demonstrated that music training negatively influenced language reading…. Thus, this author recommends that parents provide learners as many resources as possible and encourage them to participate in bands, choirs, and orchestras. (Chang, 2000, p. 34)
A reading program called Learning To Read Through the Arts Program (LTRTA), served as a guide for 677 regular elementary students and 107 special education students in New York. The students who were in the program received music in reading instruction, and exceeded program objectives. Teachers noted that participation in this program led to improved student behaviors, greater motivation to read, and an awakening of student interest and emotional growth (Collett, 1990).
The PALS (Project Art as a Learning Strategy) followed the success of LTRTA implementing a well-planned curriculum including music. Students in this program surpassed those not in the program when all were tested in reading proficiency. An evaluation of the achievement in reading revealed that music students (students receiving music instruction through class or fifth grade strings program) achieved at a higher level than their non-music student peers. Music has been shown to be such an effective tool of reading instruction that reading teachers are being urged to become knowledgeable music instructors in their reading class (Akin, 1987).
Ringgenberg (2003) suggests the frequent composition of story songs by students is seen as a first step in getting students to engage in creative writing. Story songs allow students to think about word patterns and syllabic content in new ways, given the rhythmic conventions of the music that they are familiar with. Similar activities also allow for the ordinary information to be presented in creative ways. Hansen (2001) also suggests that the structure inherent in musical composition, especially songs, can be used as a model for beginning writers. The syllabification of words, the presence of alliteration, and the inclusion of rhyme scheme all contain structural elements that can be used in creative composition. Additionally, discussions about particular songs can stimulate interest in creative aspects like mood and tone, which can then be transferred to the world of writing.
In practice, students are encouraged to try to write new verses to familiar songs, thus situating the student’s work in a specific structural context. A variation of this activity might involve a single story that is written by all members of the class. In this example, the teacher may start the story and then “hand off to a student in the class, who would tell the next bit. As each child takes a turn, their careful listening is rewarded in the rich context that has been given to them by earlier storytellers (Bradley & Bradley, 1999). This activity in particular could be introduced by a theme and variations lesson, and the knowledge gained by the musical example can then be applied to the compositional task of storytelling.
Music education has been proven to significantly raise test scores in mathematics. Students who received school keyboard music lessons scored higher in mathematics than students who were not receiving lessons. In the article “Music Makes A Difference”, Jeane Akin (1987) stated, “Music has been found to make a cognitive impact; when music periods were increased, students have made an average gain of one and one half times the normal rate in math (.75 years in six months)” (p. 4). Music educator found that incorporating music into mathematic lessons has enabled students to learn multiplication tables and math formulas more easily and at a faster rate.
Wiggins (2001) saw an example when he observed first graders using knowledge and retrograde movement in dance to identify melodic retrograde in music class. He distinguished that students applied their retrograde knowledge to complete mathematical “fact family” activities in their mathematics lesson (ex. 7-2 = 5 and 5 + 2 = 7). Furthermore, elementary school administrators are starting to realize the obvious fact that learning number patterns while singing, moving or fusing numbers to rhythm is more productive than sitting at a desk adding two and two (p. 42).
According to Yoh (2001),
Although it is a simplified form of arithmetic, counting in groups of two, three, four and higher is used consistently in all music repertoires. When students learn the values of rhythmic notation, the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division can be developed and reinforced (p. 1).
A study by Gardiner, Fox, Knowles, and Jeffrey (1996) found that the Kodaly method, a kind of musical training which includes rhythm games and learning to sing in specific increments, could significantly increase math skills in first- and second-graders. They stated that “the students getting the specialized musical training were doing the same or slightly better in reading than their counterparts in the control group at the end of seven months. But in math they zoomed ahead of their peers — even though they had started out slightly behind” (p. 2). They believe the boost came in part because music aids children’s understanding of such concepts as number lines.
Though the studies of Gardiner et al. clearly demonstrated a link between music training and the development of math skills in elementary school children, the researchers were careful not to exaggerate music’s ability to develop skills that could transfer from one subject to another. They believe that other kinds of skills could also be transferred to other disciplines (Gardiner et al., 1996). In a study of elementary aged children, Gardiner (1996) discovered that students who participated in an arts curriculum performed better in mathematics than their peers following a two year study. In a study of fourth graders, Haley (2001) found that band members who had received instrumental instruction performed better than non-instrumentalists in mathematics achievement. Whitehead (2001) conducted research on the Orff-Schulwerk musical instructional method (music curriculum emphasizing performance improvisation over traditional rote fundamentals) and found a correlation between participating middle and high school students and increased mathematics scores.
Research has suggested that there is a cognitive connection between music education and music exposure as they relate to the mental visualization used to understand these types of problems (Foley, 2006). In mathematics education, Cheek & Smith (1999) found that enhancing the spatial/temporal cognitive abilities of the brain can lead to an unintended improvement in visually dependent arithmetic such as geometry.
Edelson and Johnson (2004) discovered that by using melodic or percussive rhythm to establish meaningful contexts in pattern thinking, children can better prepare themselves for the numerical patterns found in mathematics. This was accomplished by encouraging the children to analyze patterns to establish rules, communicate these rules with words, and then predict the next pattern. This is the basis for the Spatial-Temporal Animation Reasoning (STAR) animation reasoning program developed by Shaw (2004). Johnson and Edelson (2003) also stated that a spatial-temporal approach to classroom learning through the integration of music and mathematics produced a rhythmic foundation for learning “proportional reasoning and geometry” (p. l).
In 1999, Cheek and Smith compared eighth graders mathematics scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and discovered higher scores among student that had instrumental training for two or more years with keyboard students having the highest scores. In the examination of music and spatial/temporal enhancement, Rauscher’s 2000 study found that kindergarteners improved in a measure of spatial/temporal intelligence after four months of keyboard training. Edelson and Johnson (2003; 2004) discuss music and its relationship to spatial/temporal reasoning by offering suggestions for the integration of mathematics and music by using pattern activities such as naming, graphing, and translating patterns along with songs emphasizing serial order. This is done through the sorting and classifying of rhythms and instruments, solving problems through ratios and combinations, and using basic music theory to divide and subdivide wholes.
Rauscher et al. (1993) conducted a pilot study and found that a small group of preschoolers who were provided with several months of music training scored higher on a task designed to measure spatial-temporal reasoning than was expected of their population. Although the effect was significant for the 2 schools that participated, the children at one school showed greater improvement.
Rauscher, Shaw, Levine, Ky, and Wright (1994) conducted a study designed to determine if simply listening to music could improve spatial IQ. They found that college students who listened to 10 minutes of Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos (K44S) scored higher on tasks designed to measure spatial IQ than when they listened to 10 minutes of either self-hypnosis relaxation instruction or silence. However, this effect was only temporary.
In 1995, Rauscher et al. replicated this study and again found that spatial-temporal reasoning improved after listening to the Mozart Sonata. Though daily exposure to Mozart’s music produced daily increases in scores, this effect did not apply to all styles of music or to all areas of intelligence. For example, Phillip Glass’ minimalist music did not enhance spatial-temporal reasoning. Further, the students’ scores did not improve when they performed a short-term memory task after listening to Mozart.
Rauscher et al. (1995) concluded that “although the Mozart effect is intriguing and holds great promise for further explorations into the transfer of musical processing to other domains of reasoning, merely listening to music probably does not lead to lasting enhancement of spatial-temporal intelligence. Listening to music is a passive experience for most people, and does not require the involvement that actively creating music does” (p. 2). This observation led researchers to suspect that actively creating music has greater benefits for spatial temporal intelligence than simply listening to it.
Combining separate elements of an object into a whole or arranging them in a specific order are spatial-temporal operations. They require successive steps, which are dependent upon previous steps. Spatial-logical operations also require recognition of similarities or differences among objects and are generally one-step processes. For example, a child who is asked to classify objects according to their color or shape would be performing a spatial-logical operation. The Rauscher et al. (1994) model predicted that music training may increase spatial-temporal task scores, but not necessarily spatial-logical tasks.
According to Hetland and Winner (2002), Hetland (2000) “identified 36 relevant experiments involving 2,469 subjects who included listening to a music stimulus predicted to enhance spatial reasoning”, (p. 19). The authors indicated that there were many variations of the original Rauscher and Shaw study which included the original Mozart composition (K448), works by other classical period composers, contemporary works, and total silence. In addition, several testing instruments were used in the subsequent studies, some not totally appropriate in the measurement of spatial and temporal enhancements. In addition, the wide variation of music samples used in several of these studies is seen as adversely affecting the conditions present during the experiments. As a conclusion to this segment, the authors indicated that while there is evidence that “a relationship does exist between musical and spatial reasoning and that the areas of the brain which process this information are not entirely independent, there is uncertainty as to whether the connection is because the processing areas are nearby or overlapping” (p.24).
Hetland (2000) identified 19 studies in which children who were exposed to at least 2 years of music instruction were compared to those that had not received prior music instruction. According to the authors, the studies involved “singing, playing musical games, learning musical notations, improvising or composing music, moving responsively to music, including clapping and playing instruments”, (p. 26). The experiments were divided into three groups for analysis; “spatial-temporal, nonspatial-temporal, and spatial tasks which could not be clearly distinguished as spatial-temporal” (p.26). The authors concluded that “music instruction may not be limited to spatial-temporal tasks but may enhance spatial reasoning more broadly”, (p. 29).
In closing, the authors stated that, “there is a solid, generalizable finding that, for children aged 3-12, active instruction in music, (not listening alone, although listening is a component of such instruction), enhanced performance on a specific type of spatial task classified as spatial-temporal”, (p. 30). The authors concluded with the statement that the applicability of music and the enhancement of spatial-temporal reasoning to the educational system, lies within research which determines exactly what type of musical instructional components enhance this effect. This includes a closer look at student populations, backgrounds, ages, and length of musical instruction, hi addition, a look at whether spatial reasoning through musical instruction enhances the real world academic successes of children or whether current instruction emphasizes a spatial approach to learning” (p.31), and exactly where the multi-dimensional skills attained through an improvement in spatial reasoning would appear in contemporary curriculum.
These studies did suggest casual relationships between music and spatial task performance. The authors concluded that music education was helpful for maximum cognitive development by demonstrating that music could improve the intellectual functioning of children.
Achievement in Non-Arts Areas
Non-musical outcomes achieved through music education can be divided into two categories. These are the influence of music education on academic success (Hodges and O’Connell, 2005) and the psychological enhancements that music can make on an individual’s personal development (Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham, 2004). Duke (2000) stated that much time and attention is paid to research examining the effects of music training only on academic achievement. This author draws attention to the unintended consequences of music exposure which go beyond budget allocation dilemmas that may enhance a very small measurable academic spike.
In the spirit of the ‘chicken and egg’ scenario, Duke (2000) points out that it is unclear as to whether smart students take more advanced classes or whether advanced classes produce smarter students. Duke proposed that music and arts training in general is an “integral and fundamental aspect of human communication and expression”, and a necessary component of “understanding culture and society while teaching auditory and visual discrimination” (p.6). In concert with this philosophy, Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham (2004) investigated the relationship between the arts, personality and judgment. These researchers found that art judgment was significantly related to both “personality (low extraversion and conscientiousness) and intelligence (highIQ)”(p.3).
Success in school usually predicates success in society. Music teachers or parents of music students can justify music study’s effect on helping children to become better students. Music study can help children become better students because the skills learned through the discipline of music transfers to skills that are useful in other parts of the curriculum. Also, students can learn to work effectively without resorting to violent or inappropriate behavior through participation in music ensembles. The following examples are part of the evidence that theorizes that arts instruction can significantly strengthen students’ academic performance.
According to statistics compiled by the “National Data Resource Center” (National Education Longitudinal Study, 1992), “12.14 percent of the school population can be classified as disruptive (based on factors such as frequent skipping of classes, times in trouble, in-school suspensions, disciplinary reasons given, arrests, and drop-outs). In contrast, only 8.08 percent of students involved in music classes reflect such disruptions” (p. 4). After studying undergraduate majors of medical school applicants, physician and biologist Lewis Thomas found that 66 percent of music majors who applied to medical school were admitted, while only 44 percent of biochemistry majors were admitted (Phi Delta Kappa as cited in American Music Conference, 2007).
Students who participated in arts programs in New York City elementary and middle schools showed great increases in self-esteem and reasoning ability (“National Arts Education Research Center” as cited in Children’s Music Workshop, 2006). Data from the National Education Longitudinal Study revealed that students who participated in music programs received more academic honors and awards than non-music students did. And the percentage of music students receiving As, As/Bs, and Bs was higher than the percentage of non-music students (National Center for Education Statistics as cited in Encore Music Lessons, 2007).
Gardiner et al. (1996) theorized that,
Learning arts skills forces mental ‘stretching’ useful to other areas of learning: the math learning advantage found in this study could, for example, reflect the development of mental skills such as ordering, and other elements of thinking on which mathematical learning at this age also depends (p. 1).
Many researchers believe that sequential skill-building in arts curricula should be integrated into all aspects of a school’s curriculum because it is vital to improving math and reading skills.
Cromie (1999) reported evidence from Project Zero, a research group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that has dedicated over 30 years to research in arts and education, about another side of the argument. This project is a meta-analysis of 188 published and unpublished studies since 1950. Project Zero found no support for the claim that taking art classes or being in classes that integrated arts in the academic curriculum actually led to higher academic performance. Also, they did not find any evidence that teaching the visual arts, music, or dance enhanced children’s reading skills.
However, they did find some evidence that study of a particular art form could transfer to some non-arts skills. Project Zero found that listening to music could enhance some forms of spatial reasoning for college students, but only for a short period of time. Project Zero also found that music instruction could enhance some forms of spatial reasoning in young children. But because this effect was not found to be transitory, they do not know how long it lasts. Therefore, the immediate educational benefits were unclear.
Project Zero concluded that while music may have a positive effect on mathematics skills, there are not enough studies that examine the outcomes of math to draw any valuable conclusions. Project Zero noted that classroom drama was the only area in which there was a strong causal link with educational implications. They found that children’s verbal skills (including comprehension) grow more when they act out stories, than when they simply read the stories and discuss them (Cromie, 1999).
Social/Affective Benefits of Musical Instruction
In addition to the aforementioned extramusical academic benefits to students, several studies have concluded that music instruction can have powerful social and affective benefits. Some of these benefits are a direct result of the processes that many music teachers use in their classrooms – processes that stress cooperation, responsibility, and active participation (McClung, 2000, p. 115). These benefits can positively influence not only individual well-being, but can improve classroom and even the school culture in significant ways.
For example, the Center for Music Research (1990) completed a study of Florida high schools where students, parents, and school officials were asked if the presence of arts programs were a contributing factor to a student’s decision to remain in school. The data showed that arts programs were, in fact, particularly effective in helping “students at risk” (defined by the researchers as those on the verge of dropping out of school) to remain in high school, as demonstrated by student responses listing participation in arts classes as a reason why school remained tolerable (Center for Music Research, 1990, p. 27). It was especially interesting to note, then, that guidance counselors failed to suggest arts courses to students who had mentioned dropping out. The study suggested making guidance counselors aware of the lure of arts classes to those who otherwise dislike school (Center for Music Research, 1990).
Taking a different approach, Boyce-Tillman (2000) uses a polarity model to describe the seemingly disparate values that music addresses in its study. Although this piece is more a theoretical piece than a formal research study, the author makes a solid point. The ability of music to encourage apparently opposite social concepts (like those of community and individualism, for example) gives music a special place in the curriculum as a source for self-study:
If education is for life and not just a process of enculturation into a particular value system, then the model of the musical self may be seen as a way of examining the range of musical experiences that need to be provided within the music curriculum. This will enable students to use music as a way of balancing their selves in the wider processes of living. (Boyce-Tillman, 2000, p. 97)
Several progressive educators have even suggested that the model of teaching and learning present in fine arts classes can and should determine the way in which schools should organize themselves. Stevens (2002) contrasts the “factory model” of education with the idea of “school as studio” (p. 5). In this model, teachers serve as learning guides rather than fonts of information, assessment is based on portfolios of knowledge rather than on tests that keep discrete bits of knowledge separate from each other, and courses take on a decidedly more interdisciplinary feel. The author is convinced that schools patterned in this way have the potential to bring students closer to teachers, to each other, and to the content that they study (p. 22).
Taken together, these practical studies demonstrate the role that the music can and do play in the social and affective development of students. It is important to remember that as more students come to the school door with social and emotional problems, music education can play an important role in educating students not only academically, but also emotionally and spiritually.
Music and Self-Esteem
Good self-esteem has been found to influence the success of individuals in all aspects of their lives: physical, intellectual, emotional, and social. Self-image, self-confidence, self-worth, and self-concept are all synonymous to the term self-esteem. All of these terms refer to personal judgments of worthiness that are expressed in an individual’s attitude towards him or herself (VanderArk, 1989).
Creative thinking, a skill vital to musical experience, has been linked to self-esteem. The creative thinking process can help people to develop problem-solving skills that can help to increase positive self-concepts. Musical experiences are believed to affect the way a person feels about him/herself, which includes self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem. David Elliot (1995), Professor of Music and Director of Music Education at New York University, discusses music education and its effects on self-esteem. He believes that the goals of music education, and the primary goals of every music teaching-learning situation, should be to “enable students to achieve self-growth, self-knowledge, and musical enjoyment by educating their musicianship in balanced relation to musical challenges within selected musical practices. It follows from this that musicianship is also a unique and major source of self-esteem” (p. 4).
The Importance of Music to Adolescents
“The Importance of Music to Adolescents” (North, Hargreave & O’Neill, 2000) was a study that examined the importance of music to adolescents and investigated why they listened to and performed music. A questionnaire asked participants about how involved they were with musical activities. It also asked them to rate the importance of music as compared to other activities and to rate the importance of factors that might determine why they and other people of their age and gender might listen to or perform pop and classical music.
Responses revealed that over half the respondents either played an instrument currently or had played an instrument regularly in the past. Responses also revealed that the respondents preferred listening to music over indoor activities, but not to outdoor activities. Finally, the respondents felt that listening to or playing pop music had different benefits compared to listening to or playing classical music. These results revealed that music was important to them because it allowed them to portray an image to the outside world while satisfying their emotional needs.
A study by Zillman, Aust, Hoffman, Love, Ordman, Pope, Siegler and Gibson (1995) exposed African-American and Caucasian-American high school students to a series of music videos featuring popular rock, non-political rap, or radical political rap. The study also recorded the students’ enjoyment of the music videos they were exposure to. In an unrelated study, students (after assessment of their self-esteem levels) took part in a mock student-government election. African-American and Caucasian-American candidates presented culturally liberal, neutral, or radical platforms. It was found that African-American students enjoyed rap more than rock, whereas the Caucasian-American students enjoyed rock more than rap. More importantly, musical genres had little effect on African-American students’ support of candidates.
However, Caucasian-American students’ candidate support was significantly affected. After exposure to radical political rap, Caucasian-American students gave more support to a culturally liberal African-American candidate and less support to a culturally radical Caucasian-American candidate after exposure to non-political rap or popular rock. Radical political rap seemed to motivate Caucasian-American adolescents to support efforts toward racial harmony. At the same time, radical political rap could not produce a positive effect on ethnic consciousness and on feelings of ethnic solidarity for African-American adolescents.
The Relationship between Self-Concept and Music Education
There seems to be a great interest in student self-esteem in education today. A countless number of problems such as academic underachievement, academic overachievement, drug addition, violent behavior, teenage pregnancy, and criminal behavior are believed to be associated with low self-esteem. As a result of this interest in student self-esteem, the body of educational research literature pertaining to self-esteem has grown to over 10,000 scientific studies measured by more than 200 different tests (Elliot, 1995).
The study “An Examination of Parent/Caregiver Attitudes toward Music Instruction, the Nature of the Home Musical Environment and Their Relationship to the Developmental Music Aptitude of Preschool Children” examined the relationship between the attitudes of parents or caregivers of preschool children toward music instruction and the home musical environment (Mallett, 1998). Another goal of this study was to determine if factors such as parent/caregiver attitudes, home musical environment, socioeconomic status, the ages and genders of children were predictive of musical potential in young children. The parents or caregivers received, completed, and returned a survey regarding preschool music.
The survey sought information about the subjects’ demographics, the nature of the home musical environments, whether parent/caregiver attitudes about music for preschool children were generally negative or positive (Mallett, 1998), and the children’s developing musical potential, which was measured by the game Audie (Gordon, 1989). The results indicated that the parents or caregivers had relatively positive attitudes of toward music instruction. The analysis indicated that in general these environments represented a somewhat higher than average level of exposure and activity conducive to the musical development of the children, regarding the nature of the home musical environment as reported in the survey. The age of the child and home musical environment appeared predictive of developmental music aptitude.
“Contributing Factors to the Music Attitudes of Middle School Students” (Phillips, 2002) is a study that sought to gain a better understanding of the factors related to seventh-grade students’ attitudes towards music. It specifically sought to investigate the perception of gender roles in music, self-concept in music, and home musical environment. It also hoped to determine whether students’ gender and participation in a school music ensemble impacted these factors. The subjects completed the Survey of Music Attitudes (SMA), a battery of four individual surveys, which included the Music Attitude Scale, the Male and Female Connotations of Music scale, the Music Background measure, and the Self-concept in Music scale.
Data analyses indicated significant correlations among music attitudes, home music environment, and self-concept in music for all subjects. Further analyses indicated that girls and participants in school-sponsored music ensembles reported significantly more positive music attitudes, richer home music environments, and higher self-concept in music, than boys and non-participants, respectively. Implications were drawn regarding approaches for improving music attitudes among middle school students including an emphasis on home music environment for boys, self-concept in music for girls, and increased participation in school sponsored music ensembles.
Research regarding music education and self-esteem is scarce, and it greatly contrasts with the abundance of educational literature that concerns self-esteem. Music educators should not ignore the general education community’s interest in self-esteem. After all, students’ willingness to participate in music programs might be influenced by their self-esteems. Also, research investigating the relationship between music education and self-esteem may influence decisions regarding the continuation or the termination of music programs when music programs become threatened because of limited funding.
Music therapy uses music to accomplish non-musical goals, such as the enhancement of self-esteem. The music therapy community generates research studies that often involve very specific, abnormal populations. As a result, generalizing from these studies to wider populations can be difficult.
Smeijsters and Van den Hurk (1999) describe a qualitative single-case study of the treatment of a woman having problems with depression from the death of her husband and identity crises. In this case, the treatment was supported by research techniques like categorizing, developing themes, writing memos, member checking, peer debriefing, and triangulation. During treatment, diagnostic themes such as identity crises, low self-esteem, passivity, and problems expressing feelings and problems in relationships were generated. These themes became important along with feelings of depression she experienced since the death of her husband.
The study described how the client was able to unconsciously express a part of her personality through playing the piano and vocalizing during the music therapy process; a part of her personality which had been suppressed since childhood. The music therapist used several techniques of improvisation to support the client as she moved towards a new musical and personal world. Tables of music therapy improvisations show how the client “became musically expressive, how she found a personal melody, and how she developed a closer relationship with the music therapist through musical interaction” (p.1).
Music therapy researchers have observed changes in the participants’ behavior or attitudes although traditional measurement instruments have not shown any statistically significant changes in self-esteem. This suggests that while a measurement instrument may be appropriate in one context, its use may be limited in other contexts where the researcher’s self-esteem construct does not match that of the instrument. Other possibilities are that behavioral changes that occur over relatively short periods of time are indicators of self-esteem changes that may not detected by traditional self-esteem measurement instruments until much later.
The research on music education reveals much about music’s educational value. But this must be sent to all involved in running schools that music programs to help them advocate for its mint. Music educators should work toward the inclusion of music education in the curriculum of public education. Also, the public’s perception of music education needs to be altered so that policymakers are encouraged to provide for more music education (Harvey, 1997).
Many educators posit that music should be a more central part of the school curriculum in light of studies that demonstrate a relationship between music and intellectual growth. Also, tentative research findings in support of music education have shown that people believe that there is an essential value to learning about music. Diamond and Hopson (1998) has argued that learning to play an instrument could increase a child’s capacity for “voluntary attention” (p. 7), while Porter (1998) concluded that music can teach “discipline, care, concentration, and perseverance” (p. 7).
In this chapter, literature relevant to the topics of music and brain development have been reviewed, as well as research on the use of music to improve students’ mastery of core content areas along with the literature relevant to music’s effect on student self-esteem. In Chapter Three, the study’s methodology and recapture the focus of the research will be discussed.
CHAPTER III: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of music education on students toward music and their experiences in high school, academically and otherwise. This chapter offers a description of the methodology and procedures for the project.
Educational research occurs using one of three basic approaches: quantitative, qualitative, or mixed method. In quantitative studies, the researcher uses numerical data to analyze a phenomenon and answer his/her research questions (Mertens, 2005). By contrast, qualitative studies attempt to analyze a phenomenon in a more descriptive or narrative way. Mixed method studies attempt to use both quantitative and qualitative means to provide data for analysis (Mertens, 2005). For this study, qualitative research method will be used. Students and instructors will be interviewed for at least one hour, individually or in small groups. A written survey will also be administered to discover other students’ attitudes about their experiences with music education in high school.
Since this study is primarily concerned with determining the effects of music education on students toward music and their experiences in high school, academically and otherwise a qualitative approach was considered the best choice. Although it is true that data collection procedures involved, for example, counting the incidence of a particular theme during the coding process, this sort of quantitative work did not, in and of itself, suggest a mixed-method approach, and consequently there was no attempt to design a quantitative research instrument.
The study fell rather easily into a qualitative research paradigm for three reasons. First, the research questions themselves suggested a qualitative approach; because they emphasized a search for meaning that the students provided using value statements and feelings. As Merriam (1998) states, “the key concern in qualitative research is understanding the phenomenon of interest from the participants’ perspectives” (p. 6). Given the alignment of the research questions with basic tenets of a qualitative research paradigm, the decision to utilize a qualitative methodology was deemed appropriate. Second, the idea of democratic experiential education, used as the conceptual framework for this study, is closely tied to constructivist scholarship, and as Mertens (2005) argues, “qualitative methods such as interviews, observations, and document reviews are predominant in the constructivist paradigm” (p. 15).
Once again, there is a strong alignment of the study with contemporary scholarship on qualitative research; in this case, the conceptual framework used as the philosophical basis for the study dovetails neatly with a qualitative methodology. Finally, the researcher has earlier stated a desire to offer needed qualitative scholarship to those involved in the music education research community. For this reason, a decision was made to avoid quantitative analyses entirely in favor of qualitative means.
Participants who will be interviewed (individually or in small groups) will consist of 20 12th-grade students who have been in the band/orchestra for at least 2 years. Twenty additional students, who have participated in band/orchestra for at least one year, will be surveyed, using a written instrument. In addition, 5 band/orchestra instructors will be interviewed about the impacts of music education on students’ attitudes towards music and their experiences in high school. Participants are encouraged to record their responses in qualitative terms explaining how they feel about various aspects of music learning, in alignment with the qualitative methodology that is proposed as suitable for the study.
A selected group of twenty high school 12th-grade students will be interviewed individually about their experiences in band/orchestra and how it has related to their experiences in school or their attitudes towards schooling in general. They will be asked about their feelings about being in the band/orchestra and why they have chosen to participate in these activities; what they believe these activities have given to them; and how they might feel that band/orchestra might impact their futures. These individual interviews will take about 1 hour each. An interview guide will be used (see appendix A1) to provide consistency across these conversations, but participants will be free to add additional thoughts if they wish.
Twenty additional band/orchestra students will be surveyed about their experiences in band/orchestra and how it has related to their experiences in school or their attitudes towards schooling in general. The surveys will be completed in a classroom setting, where the students will be given an hour to complete each (see appendix A2).
Five band/orchestra instructors will be interviewed about their feelings toward the impact music education has on students’ academic experiences in and attitudes towards school, especially academically. Each interview will take about 1 hour. An interview guide will be used (see appendix A3) to provide consistency across these conversations, but these participants will be free to add additional thoughts if they wish.
The questionnaire interviews students on their qualitative responses that include the following; their reason for joining band/orchestra, the experiences they appreciate about being in the band/orchestra, the impact that music has on their study skills which can be based on the improvements in cognition, memory, concentration, aptitude skills and grades, the social impacts and their perceptions about the impact of being in band/orchestra on their future prospects.
As the research has a limitation on the number of participants who may be included in the research and is time bound the results are limited to the sample pool of students who participate in the study. The unfamiliarity of the researcher may result in restricted responses. The responses are written to specific focus points and are limited to the subject of research. As the study is based on human subjects the sensitivity is very high. The emotional status of the student at the time of study or a recent incident may influence their responses. Lack of trust from the participants and fear of the outcome may result in restricted or a favored response imagined by the student. Lack of interest in participation may lead to limited communication.
Preparation: A detailed review of the requirements prior to conducting the research is carried out. All the documents and other materials required for the administration of research are to be made available. Use of open ended question ensures a more elaborate answer from the participants. Pre selection and pre qualification of participants based on the relevance to research is essential to a successful research procedure. Briefing the students on participatory guidelines, building trust and encouraging total participation is a key to successful response collection. Some informal time for familiarization to encourage enthusiastic participation from the group is allowed. Any skepticism or doubts that they have may be cleared. This process is useful in obtaining cooperation from the students. As the questionnaire is being filled by direct contact it is important to inform the participating team, the student’s class teacher and the administrative staff at the beginning of the research process
Observing protocols: As the research is planned among school students and is conducted in a class room it is important to observe the classroom protocols. Maintaining professionalism throughout the procedure, communication with the class teacher and the student and time to create a comfort zone for the students to participate are key to the process. Protecting Subjects Identity might be required as part of the process which can be done by allocating a subject identification number. As the research involves human subjects, maintaining confidentiality of information revealed is critical and a sensitive need.
Some of the aspects of limitations are addressed while administering the research process. By informing the students of the importance of the study and the benefits that they are likely to get from it, it is possible to ensure total participation from the subjects.
A debriefing session to discuss the research findings with the participants is useful information to share with the group. All measures are observed to keep the study process unobtrusive, the participants confident of the purpose of study and the research time bound and efficient.
The surveys and digitally-recorded interviews will be transcribed and checked. The transcripts will be coded into categories that are either descriptive or interpretative based on themes and patterns (Miles & Huberman, 1994). These data will then be weaved into a narrative report reflecting the students’ and teachers’ perceptions of music education’s impacts on students’ attitudes and experiences with music and high school, especially academically. Pseudonyms will be used throughout the narrative to provide anonymity to all participants.
While a quantitative analysis measures the responses in numerical indexes and usually gives an indication on the number of instances an event occurs or a scale of measurement, a qualitative data analysis focuses on the reasons, emotions and motivations for an action. A qualitative data analysis is often uninfluenced and unbiased as the respondent directly expresses his views or emotions and leads to an accurate assessment when analyzed systematically.
The responses to each question are categorized into smaller units of analysis to understand the number of occurrences as well as the implied meanings of each sentence, phrase or words. Contents are categorized based on the content units to arrive at finer distinctions of the content and at a more reliable measure for the aspect of research. A detailed evaluation of the contents under each category gives an accurate indication of general tendencies and experience.
In this chapter, the methodology of the current study was outlined. The qualitative approaches utilized by the researcher were intended to generate a rich and meaningful picture of the high school music experience that richly and accurately describes the broad spectrum of students’ experiences. In addition to providing the quantitative-dominated music education research base with a much-needed qualitative study, it is hoped that the collected data and subsequent analysis will assist leaders in the music education field as they continue to improve and unify their advocacy argument for the continued inclusion and expansion of music programs at all levels of study.
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