The short answer is “Yes!” As we learned from our previous blog about musicians, we know that music aids memory, visual development, timing and organization. But now science is backing the theory that it improves academic performance.
Cuts in music and arts education programs inspired a group of neuroscientists to take on a large, long-term study of primary school students. The results of this study were published in the Neuroscience News in February 2018 and is the first of its kind.
“Despite indications that music has beneficial effects on cognition, music is disappearing from general education curricula,” says Dr Artur Jaschke, from VU University of Amsterdam, who led the study with Dr Henkjan Honing and Dr Erik Scherder. “This inspired us to initiate a long-term study on the possible effects of music education on cognitive skills that may underlie academic achievement.”
When a structured musical program was added to regular elementary school curriculum, the team of Dutch researchers found increases in cognitive skills like planning, inhibition, and memory-all skills needed for high academic performance. 147 students were studied over the course of two and a half years. Supplementary visual arts classes were also added which proved to increase visual and spatial short-term memory.
As a result of the study, Dutch schools are aiming to add music and art classes to all primary schools by 2020.
“Considering our results, we hope that this study will support political developments to reintegrate music and arts education into schools around the world.” says Dr. Jaschke.
What can parents do if schools are without arts education? Consider getting involved in school funding organizations and push for support. At the same time, supplement your child’s education with after-school music and arts programs. It’s vital to strong academic performance. Click to read the full study.