Research 2


First Note Research Findings School Year 2012-2013 (Click Here)


Ten-Year Study Shows Music Improves Test Scores

Regardless of socioeconomic background, music-making students get higher marks in standardized tests. UCLA professor, Dr. James Catterall, led an analysis of a U.S. Department of Education database. Called NELLs88, the database was used to track more than 25,000 students over a period of ten years. The study showed that students involved in music generally tested higher than those who had no music involvement. The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the SAT, but also in reading proficiency exams. The study also noted that the musicians scored higher, no matter what socioeconomic group was being studied.
Dr. James Catterall, UCLA, 1997


Benefits of a music-infused education include:

Schools with the lowest drop out rates — 52% of students are enrolled in fine arts classes

2nd grade students scored 27% higher on proportional math and fractions tests

Students that score ~57 points higher on verbal SAT

Students that score ~41 points higher on math SAT

66% of music majors were accepted into MedSchool – highest percentage of any major*

*Music majors are the most likely group of college grads to be admitted to medical school. Physician and biologist Lewis Thomas studied the undergraduate majors of medical school applicants. He found that 66 percent of music majors who applied to med school were admitted, the highest percentage of any group. For comparison, (44 percent) of biochemistry majors were admitted. Also, a study of 7,500 university students revealed that music majors scored the highest reading scores among all majors including English, biology, chemistry and math.

Sources: “The Comparative Academic Abilities of Students in Education and in Other Areas of a Multi-focus University,” Peter H. Wood, ERIC Document No. ED327480
”The Case for Music in the Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan, February, 1994

University studies conducted in Georgia and Texas found significant correlations between the number of years of instrumental music instruction and academic achievement in math, science and language arts.
Source: University of Sarasota Study, Jeffrey Lynn Kluball; East Texas State University


A Gallup Survey on America’s attitudes towards music revealed the following:

93% of Gallup Survey respondents agreed music is part of a well-rounded education

86% felt all schools should offer instrumental music as part of a regular curriculum

88% believe music helps a child’s overall intellectual development

70% believe school music program participation corresponds to better grades and test scores

85% believe communities should provide financial resources to support these programs
-1994 Gallup Survey

Rhythm Students Learn Fractions Better

After learning eighth, quarter, half and whole notes, second and third graders scored 100% higher than their peers who were taught fractions using traditional methods.
Neurological Research, March 15, 1999

Music intelligence is equal in importance to logical-mathematical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, spatial intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence and intrapersonal intelligence”
– Howard Gardner, Harvard Psychologist (1983)


Music Education Aids Children’s Speech, Language Skills

Submitted by Deborah Mitchell on 2010, February 21 – 17:39

Music education can have a significant impact on children’s sensory system, helping them better process speech and improving their language skills. Nina Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology and Communication Sciences at Northwestern University believes that despite hard financial times, school districts should not cut music education from their K-12 curriculum.

Kraus, who presented her research and the research of other neuroscientists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting on Saturday, February 20, suggests music education can help both normally developing children as well as those who have autism or other challenges. Many study results support this idea.

A study from the University of London, for example, evaluated 4- and 5-year-old children and found that they have implicit knowledge of Western harmony, and that children who receive musical training show enhanced language skills, especially in memory for words.

A recent study from Germany explored how musical training can influence perceptual and cognitive abilities of children. The investigators found that the neurophysiological mechanisms that underlie syntax processing in music and language are developed earlier and more robustly in children who have music education.


Short-Term Music Training Enhances Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function, Sylvain Moreno, Ellen Bialystok, Raluca Barac, E. Glenn Schellenberg, Nicholas J. Cepeda and Tom Chau (Click Here).


Short-Term Second Language and Music Training Induces Lasting Functional Brain Changes in Early Childhood,  Sylvain Morenow and Yunjo Lee Rotman Research Institute, Monika Janus and Ellen Bialystok York University (Click Here)


Selected Bibliography Offering Support for Music Education
as Part of the Comprehensive Curriculum

Judith Burton of Columbia University gathered research to show that subjects such as science, mathematics, and language require complex cognitive and creative capacities “typical of arts learning” (Burton, Horowitz, & Abeles, 1999). (p. 2)

Music Enhances Cognition Systems: Music helps you think by activating and synchronizing neural firing patterns that orchestrate and connect multiple brain sites. The neural synchrony ensembles increase both the brain’s efficiency and effectiveness. These key systems are well connected and located in the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes, as well as the cerebellum. The strongest studies support the value of music-making in spatial reasoning, creativity, and generalized mathematical skills. (p. 20)  “…multiple-site, cross-activation may be necessary for higher brain functions, including music, cognition, and memory. … Patterns of a neural symphony form a plausible model that suggests music has a fast track to engaging and enhancing higher brain activities [known as executive functions]. (p. 20)

[There appears to be a growing consensus among cognitive researchers that participation in music, or other arts related subjects, “makes us smarter” by more fully engaging the right side of the brain, i.e., whole brain individuals simply work smarter than either left brain or right brain dominant individuals. Whole brain thinking is more fluid and the ‘products’ are of higher quality. This may be the reason that students who seem to have mediocre intellectual ability begin to excel academically after enrolling in music classes; or that when low achieving schools have been infused with an arts curriculum, the students begin to make significant gains in academic and social skills. In such cases, we can distinguish between ‘potential intellect’ (unrealized brain capacity) and ‘kinetic intellect’ (brain capacity demonstrated through observable application).

Whole brain educational practices offer students the best opportunity to awaken kinetic intellect across subject areas. Whole brain learning appears to be key in developing general intellectual ability. If students engage in music learning through whole brain learning activities, then music becomes a key to developing whole brain thinking skills that will facilitate learning in other subjects.]


Research notes more ways music affects brain

Scripps Howard News Service

Published: Sunday, February 21, 2010 at 4:01 a.m.

Music to our ears not only affects our mood and, if too loud, our hearing, but actually reaches into many different parts of our brains.

Tunes – especially those we perform ourselves – have a big influence in how our brains organize to process and filter sound, researchers have been finding.

Playing a musical instrument appears to both improve our ability to hear and our ability to focus and remember, according to two recent studies.

In one experiment, neurobiologists at Northwestern University in Chicago found that musicians have a perceptual advantage for being able to communicate in noisy environments.

Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Lab, said the 16 highly trained musicians tested were better than 15 non-musicians at picking out key elements of speech from background noise made up of babble from six different speakers. The study was published in November in the Journal of Neuroscience. 

Science Daily (Feb. 11, 2009)

A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly reveals that music participation, defined as music lessons taken in or out of school and parents attending concerts with their children, has a positive effect on reading and mathematic achievement in early childhood and adolescence. Additionally, socioeconomic status and ethnicity affect music participation.

See also:
Darby E. Southgate, MA, and Vincent Roscigno, Ph.D., of The Ohio State University reviewed two nationally representative data sources to analyze patterns of music involvement and possible effects on math and reading performance for both elementary and high school students.

Music is positively associated with academic achievement, especially during the high school years.
However, not all adolescents participate in music equally, and certain groups are disadvantaged in access to music education. Families with high socioeconomic status participate more in music than do families with lower socioeconomic status. In addition to social class as a predictor of music participation, ethnicity is also a factor. Asians and Whites are more likely to participate in music than are Hispanics. While young Black children attended concerts with their parents, they were less likely to take music lessons.
“This topic becomes an issue of equity at both the family and school levels,” the authors conclude. “This has major policy implications for federal, state, and local agencies, as well as knowledge that can help families allocate resources that are most beneficial to children.”

Journal reference: Southgate et al. The Impact of Music on Childhood and Adolescent Achievement. Social Science Quarterly, 2009; 90

Methods. We review prior work pertaining to music’s impact on achievement and then draw from two nationally representative data sources (ECLS-K and NELS:88). Our analyses apply logistic and OLS regression techniques to assess patterns of music involvement and possible effects on math and reading performance for both elementary and high school students.

Results. Music involvement varies quite systematically by class, and gender status, and such involvement holds implications for both math and reading achievement, and for young children and adolescents. Notably, associations with achievement persist in our modeling even when prior achievement levels are accounted for. Although music does mediate some student background effects, this mediation is only minimal.

Conclusions. Music participation, both inside and outside of school, is associated with measures of academic achievement among children and adolescents.