A new study offers extraordinary findings.
You want the best for your kids. Even if they don’t deserve it. The world has become an ever more traumatized place, so you feel you should do ever more to give them a helping hand.
Though it surely stops before you pay a fixer $500,000 for them to go to USC. I want to help you for free, oh traumatized parent.
So I’ve just found a fascinating piece of research that might be a good guide, should you want your children to be good at the basics.
You know, math, science, English, and getting good grades.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia looked at the performance of more than 100,000 Canadian high school students to see whether they could find interesting links between success in one subject and another.
What they discovered was that those who did well at math, science, and English took music courses.
Yes, a subject that some might think was sonorously peripheral seems to be associated with great high school success.
Is there a particular sort of music, I hear you cry, that kids should study?
Well, study author Peter Gouzouasis put it like this:
Students who participated in music, who had higher achievement in music, and who were highly engaged in music had higher exam scores across all subjects, while these associations were more pronounced for those who took instrumental music rather than vocal music.
Less Aretha Franklin and more Evgeny Kissin, then?
This sounds wonderful, but can we offer quantification? After all, buying your kids a musical instrument isn’t cheap. Unless, I imagine, it’s a triangle.
Gouzouasis was happy to put a number on learning some fine instrumental numbers:
On average, the children who learned to play a musical instrument for many years, and were now playing in high school band and orchestra, were the equivalent of about one academic year ahead of their peers with regard to their English, mathematics, and science skills, as measured by their exam grades.
Here’s what the researchers found extremely entertaining. The relationship between music and success in the core subjects was remarkably consistent across math, science, and English.
Gouzouasis offered one more insight, as a potential explanation for this phenomenon:
Learning to play a musical instrument and playing in an ensemble is very demanding. A student has to learn to read music notation, develop eye-hand-mind coordination, develop keen listening skills, develop team skills for playing in an ensemble, and develop discipline to practice. All those learning experiences play a role in enhancing children’s cognitive capacities and their self-efficacy.
Some will–naturally and mischievously–wonder whether Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Nadya Tichman, first violinist with the San Francisco Symphony, all had excellent math, science, and English skills in high school.
In any case, learning to play with others is surely one of the vital life skills.
Surely it’s worth pushing your kids toward music, even if it might mean some very uncomfortable evenings at home while they practice.