Research and Data
The top half of this page contains "soundbites" which can be quoted.
The bottom half contains links to specific studies for more in-depth research available to read.
Specific Statistics and Sources - "Soundbites" You can Use
- When elementary school music programs are cut, within two years, middle school music program enrollment drops by 65%. This then carries over to high school which also sees a 65% drop in enrollment. (source: John Behnham, Music Advocacy)
- The College Entrance Examination Board found that students involved in music scored 107 points higher on average on the SAT than students with no music participation.
- Purdue University studied its students and concluded the following: Students involved in music had an average GPA of 3.18 vs. 2.89 for the student body as a whole, completed an average of 16.7 credits/semester vs. 13.9 for the student body as a whole, had higher SAT scores when entering Purdue, and had a 10-15% higher graduation rate than the overall student body.
- A 10-year study indicates that students who study music achieve higher test scores, regardless of socioeconomic background. (Dr. James Catterall, UCLA)
- Music develops concentration and memory. The brain processes of a pianist were traced while he performed and it was found that there were 4.000 neurological processes per minute. No other vocation requires the mind to perform so accurately.
- A study of 7500 university students revealed that music majors scored the highest reading scores among all majors, including English, Biology, Chemistry and Math. (“The Comparative Academic Abilities of Students in Education and in Other Areas of a Multi-focus University” Peter H. Wood, ERIC Document No. ED327480)
- Music students outperform non-musical on achievement tests in reading and math. Skills such as reading, anticipating, memory, listening, forecasting, recall, and concentration are developed in musical performance, and these skills are valuable to students in math, reading and science. (B. Friedman, “An evaluation of the Achievement in Reading and Arithmetic of Pupils in Elementary School Instrumental Music Classes. Dissertation Abstracts International”)
- In a Scottish study, one group of elementary students received musical training, while another group received an equal amount of discussion skills training. After six months, the students in the music group achieved a significant increase in reading test scores, while the reading test scores of the discussion skills group did not change. (Shetla Douglas & Peter Willatts. ’94 Journal of Research in Reading)
- Two research projects have found that music training, specifically piano instruction, can dramatically enhance children’s spatial-temporal reasoning skills, the skills crucial for greater success in subjects like math and science. A group of preschoolers received private piano keyboard lessons and singing lessons. A second group received private computer lessons. Those children who received piano/keyboard training performed 34% higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than the others, even those who received computer training. (Shaw, Grazianow, and Peterson, Neurological Research, March 1999)
- Students with coursework/experience in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT: 53 points higher on the verbal and 39 points on the math than students with no arts participation. (College-Bound Seniors National Report 1999: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers, The College Entrance Examination Board, Princeton, NJ).
- Data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study showed that music participants received more academic honors and awards than non-music students, and that the percentage of music participants receiving A’s and B’s, was higher than the percentage of non-participants receiving those grades. (National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988. First Follow Up, 1990. U.S. Department of Education.)
- The U.S. Department of Education lists the arts as subjects that college-bound middle and high school students should take, stating, “Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them.” It is also well known and widely recognized that the arts contribute significantly to children’s intellectual development.
- College admissions officers continue to cite participation in music as an important factor in making admissions decisions. They claim that music participation demonstrates time management, creativity, expression, and open-mindedness. (Carl Hartman, “Arts May Improve Student’s Grades”, The Associated Press, October, 1999)
- 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% of majors who applied to medical school were admitted, the highest percentage of any group. For comparison, 44% of Biochemistry majors were admitted. (The Comparative Academic Abilities of students in Education and in Other Areas of a Multi-focus Univerisity, Peter H. Wood, ERIC Document, No. ED327480, The Case for Music in the Schools, Phi Delta Kappan, February, 1994)
Links to National Studies and Statistics
- ArtScan, a project of the Arts Education Partnership, is a searchable clearinghouse of the latest state policies supporting education in the arts from all 50 states. You will find policy language extracted directly from each state's education policies, information on state-level surveys of arts education, and a set of descriptive education indicators (from the U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics' Digest of Education Statistics).
Five Ways to Use ArtScan:
- Capture a snapshot of all the data ArtScan has to offer about your state including state policies in 14 policy areas, arts education survey information, and state-level education indicators.
- Create custom side-by-side comparison reports using a search engine that allows you to choose individual states and data points of interest.
- Compare the policies of all 50 states within specific policy areas including Survey of Arts Education, Arts in Core Academic Subjects, and High School Requirements for Arts Education.
- Explore a "State of the States" summary reviewing 13 arts education policies and where these policies exist across the nation.
- An excellent PBS article entitled, "The Benefits of Music Education" which cites specific research showing that music in education enhances the ability to learn other subjects, language skills, increases IQ perhaps in part by forcing the brain to work harder, improves spatial-temporal skills, and helps students test better.
- A 2012 study published by the National Institutes of Health showing that music speeds up linguistic and speech capabilities in 8-10 year old children.
- A document published by Americans for the Arts which shows the results of an 18 month study of German elementary school students improved abilities in Verbal Learning, Verbal Delayed Recall and Verbal Recognition with 40 minutes of instrumental music education each week. The music students performance is graphed against the control group over the course of 18 months.
- The National Center for Education Statistics has published the results of a congressionally mandated study of the status of arts education in public K-12 schools. The study was performed in 2010/11 and compared to the same study from 1999/2000. There is a tremendous amount of data at this link.
- An article titled, "Why Music Education Matters" on "Trust Me, I'm a Scientist" written Feb, 2014 which cites numerous studies around how music improves cognitive abilities, improves test scores, and helps disadvantaged youth.
- A study published June 17, 2014 which looked at "Behavioral and Neural Correlates of Executive Functioning in Musicians and Non-Musicians" and concluded that "These results support the working hypothesis that musical training may promote the development and maintenance of certain Executive Functioning skills." This is a very technical study for which the results are free to the public and allowed to be used and reproduced. (The bottom line is that it correlates musical study with enhanced abilities to learn across various dimensions as well as with enhanced performance.)
- A 2011 study by the President's Committee on the Arts and on the Humanities entitled "Reinvesting in Arts Eduction, Winning America's Future Through Creative Schools". This study, with a forward by Arnie Duncan, then Secretary of Education, looks at America's education system and the opportunities to enhance it through the arts. It presents the compelling case for change and a series of recommendations on how to get there.
- The Colorado Department of Education prepared a guidebook for school districts to enhance their arts education programs. This guidebook was written based on many of the principles advocated in the above President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities study. It provides a roadmap for enhancing arts education and the methods for sustaining it once enhanced
- A study published September 4, 2014 in the Journal of Neuroscience about how music lessons enhance brain function in underprivileged children. An overview of the study can be found here. The full study is available here. Specifically, it concludes that the study of music enhances the neural processing of speech and sound in this group of children. That, in turn, leads to greater ability to process and learn.
- An article called "This is Your Brain. This is Your Brain on Music" which chronicles the results of The Harmony Project in Los Angeles. The Harmony Project focuses on after school programs for low income areas. Not only do the students in The Harmony Project perform better than their peers outside of the program, their graduation rate increases from 50% to 95%. A second study, available here, also looked at The Harmony Project and was able to show a clear correlation between music and the brain's ability to process information.
- We have placed a 2014 Ted Talk video on our Multimedia Impacts page. This 4 1/2 minute video covers all the ways playing an instrument impacts the brain and is based on current research.
- The NAMM Foundation published a research piece on May 11, 2015 titled, “Striking a Chord: The Public’s Hopes and Beliefs for K-12 Music Education in the United States 2015". 1000 teachers and 800 parents were surveyed and this piece of research shows that both parents and educators overwhelmingly support music education in schools, starting at the elementary school level. This contrasts with national trends of de-funding music and performing arts classes.
- The University of Vermont College of Medicine published in January 2015 one of the largest studies ever done on the cognitive benefits of music on brain development. They found that not only does music help students process other subjects as well, but also that it helps with development of motor skills, cognitive development, and social and behavioral maturation. Here is a link to a Washington Post article outlining the results of the study along with a link to the study itself.