The Benefits of Music Education

There is lots of evidence of the benefits of playing music and joining the band.  




students playing in school band

The College Entrance Examination Board found that music students scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math than students with no arts participation.

“College-bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers," Princeton, NJ: The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001.


U.S. Department of Education data shows that students who report consistently high levels of involvement in instrumental music during the middle- and high-school years show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12.

Catterall, J., Chapleau, R., and Iwanga, J., “Involvement in the Arts and Human Development,” 1999


The vast majority—96 percent—of the school principals interviewed in a recent study agree that participation in music education encourages and motivates students to stay in school. Further, 89 percent of principals feel that a high-quality music education program contributes to their school achieving higher graduation rates.


Harris Interactive Poll, 2006


A recent Harris Poll revealed that 93 percent of Americans agree that the arts are vital to providing a well-rounded education for children. Seven in ten parents strongly agree that music and arts instruction is very important for their children’s school curriculum.

CBS News Poll, January 2010


students playing in school band

“I write to bring to your attention the importance of the arts as a core academic subject and part of a complete education for all students. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) defines that arts as a core subject, and the arts play a significant role in children’s development and learning process”

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, August 2009


With music in schools, students connect to each other better—greater camaraderie, fewer fights, less racism and reduced use of hurtful sarcasm.

Jensen, E., "Arts with the Brain in Mind," Association For Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001

There is a high relationship between interest in school music and high self-perception, high cognitive competence scores, and general self-esteem.

Costa-Giomi, E., “The McGill Piano Project,” 1998

A four-region public school music education study revealed that students in high-quality school music education programs scored higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs. Students in top-quality music programs scored 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent better in mathematics than students in deficient music programs—academic differences were consistent across geographic areas.

Journal of Research in Music Education, Spring 2007

students with musical instruments

A study published in the Journal of Research in Music  Education outlines responses for 1150 teens reveals the meaning and importance of music participation in the lives of middle and high school students, to include music’s benefits to life-at-large, including the building of one’s character and life skills, social benefits encompassing camaraderie, the acceptance of differences and high morale at school and home and distraction from vices such as drugs, alcohol, smoking, gangs, sex, and suicidal behaviors.

Journal of Research in Music Education, Fall 2007

A 2007 Harris Interactive Poll of working adults indicated that music education impacted five skill areas: the ability to work toward common goals, striving for excellence in group settings, disciplined approach to solving problems, creative problem solving, and flexibility in work situations.

Harris Interactive Poll, 2007

Music majors are the most likely group of college grads to be admitted to medical school.

Thomas, L., "Case for Music in the Schools," Phi Delta Kappa, 1994

The foremost technical designers and engineers in Silicon Valley are almost all practicing musicians.

Dickinson, D., "Music and the Mind," 1993

students playing musical instruments“Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art,” a study by James Catterall (I-Group Books, 2009), explores the relationships between arts involvement, academic achievement, and citizenship. Using 12 years of data collected by the National Educational Longitudinal Survey (NELS) where students were studied for the same 12-year period, Catterall’s study looks at the effect of education, visual and performing arts on the achievement and values of young adults and compares students at arts-rich schools to students in arts-poor schools. Students who were highly involved with the arts outperformed their less-involved peers, even within low socioeconomic groups; low-income students with high arts involvement performed better than the average study (at all income levels) in the NELS sample. There is also a halo effect for arts-rich schools; even students who are not personally involved in the arts benefit. These students are more likely to attend four-year colleges, progress to higher education faster and get better grades.

Catteral, J., "Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art," 2009

Students indicate that arts participation motivates them to stay in school, and that the arts create a supportive environment that promotes constructive acceptance of criticism and one in which it is safe to take risks.

Barry N., Taylor, K. and Walls K., "Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development, AEP, 2002