Researchers Find Link Between Music and Academic Performance in Nashville

Independent study shows higher performance on all levels for musicians in class of 2012

Bringing decades of anecdotal evidence and national research home to Music City, Metro Nashville Public Schools and Mayor Karl Dean are proud to reveal the direct connection between music education and student achievement and engagement. The results of an independent research study on the benefits of music education in Nashville clearly show that Metro students engaged in music programs outperform their peers on every indicator – grade point average, graduation rate, ACT scores, attendance and discipline.

“This benchmark study confirms what every music teacher knows,” said Laurie Schell, director of Music Makes Us. “Music engages students in school and can motivate them toward greater achievement. Our job now is to take this knowledge and let it guide us in expanding a high-quality music program that reaches all students.”

“Music and other co-curricular activities are going to play a key role in our journey to becoming to highest performing urban school district in the country,” said Director of Schools Jesse B. Register. “We will offer every student in Metro Schools the opportunity to learn a music instrument or otherwise participate in music programs. This new research reinforces our resolve. Music will help students grow, achieve and be empowered in education.”

Commissioned by Music Makes Us, a joint effort between Metro Schools, Mayor Karl Dean and the Nashville music industry, researchers from the University of Kansas looked at four year’s worth of student data, as well as student surveys and focus groups, to determine what influence music can have on students.

Key Findings:

MMU Key Findings

Read the Full Report

In addition to the above findings, students who participated in music programs reported more positive attitudes and behaviors in their personal lives and in school. They had a strong sense of identity, developed positive academic habits, applied musical skills to other academic courses, saw themselves as more motivated in school and reported positive effects on their mood – essentially feeling “happier” because of music.

“When we started Music Makes Us, we knew we would not just be giving students a creative outlet; we also knew music education could have a positive impact on academic performance and attitudes about school,” said Mayor Karl Dean. “This study validates the importance of music education and our investment in this one-of-a-kind program as we continue to focus on providing every child in Metro Schools with a high quality education.”

This baseline research is a positive early step, but it is not the end result. The report clearly shows that the more music classes a student takes, the better his chances of achieving. That means Music Makes Us must continue to grow and develop until it touches every student in every school. That can only happen with community support, which helped give birth to Music Makes Us in the first place.

“It’s thanks to the partnership between the district, Mayor Dean and Nashville’s music industry leaders that we are even in this position,” said Dr. Register.

Mayor Dean added, “Without the strong community partners backing this effort, including incredible support from the Country Music Association, we wouldn’t be here. Nashville owes them a debt of gratitude.”

The next step is examining and implementing the recommendations made in the report, which include expansion, student retention and continuity of existing programs.

“Our teachers are ready to step up and engage with the broader music community,” said Schell. “We are excited to build our capacity to have an impact on student learning through music. The benefits for the students and the city will be far-reaching.”

Posted on November 22, 2013, in Community Partners, District, News and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. This study hits home. My son has been active in all aspects of band at Woodcreek High in Roseville,CA for the entire four years of high school. It has done so much more for him than just raise his grades and attendance it has provided him with an incredible connection with like minded young people, it has opened doors, built his self confidence, taught him commitment, given him leadership skills, AND kept him focused on his future. Not to mention fostering his musical abilities, given him the outlet of music when adolescence became unbearable. The arts are extremely important in the Jr high and high school setting just ask ANY band student or band parent!

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  2. I agree this is an accurate assessment of music and it’s affect on learning. From my school years, I spent 5 years in the band program in Morristown TN and now my children are involved in the Tullahoma TN band program. From a parents perspective, I now recognize what makes band/chorus kids appear to be “smarter”. It is the discipline that is instilled in the process of learning how to sing or play an instrument. While we often revolt against discipline, we all hunger for it at the same time. It makes us better in every venue.

    The Tullahoma program, if reviewed critically, could be a model program to emulate for the rest of the state. It forces parents to get involved in their kids education, it starts prior to the start of the 6th grade year, and it gives discipline to kids that often have little to no structure at home. In addition it allows kids to see what can be accomplished when a team comes together as well as individual performance achievements for those that go the extra mile with practice and effort. The competition allows each member to strive for something higher and if no effort is put forth, it is readily apparent in their chair seating. With effort, the child will move up the line as they mature and put their time into practice.

    There is more that could be said about the THS program but it would take far too much time.

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  3. I agree that music has a big learning effect for any student because when a child is young is when they learn the most and their brains are still developing. Studies have shown that music honestly helps with not only their learning skills but also their social skills as well.

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    • It’s important to remember that correlation does not equal causation. Maybe kids more likely to become involved in music have minds that are naturally more learning focused, come from better schools, or come from families that are more educationally driven. A study should control for socioeconomic status, school quality, and other variables to be more convincing.

      Having said that, I do think music is an amazing thing to be involved in and that it can positively impact other areas of life. I just don’t think this study proves that definitively. I do encourage everyone to participate in music programs and think it can be an excellent supplement to anyone’s life.

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  4. It’s important to remember that correlation does not equal causation. Maybe kids more likely to become involved in music have minds that are naturally more learning focused, come from better schools, or come from families that are more educationally driven. A study should control for socioeconomic status, school quality, and other variables to be more convincing.

    Having said that, I do think music is an amazing thing to be involved in and that it can positively impact other areas of life. I just don’t think this study proves that definitively. I do encourage everyone to participate in music programs and think it can be an excellent supplement to anyone’s life.

    Like

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