Music Programs are Not Luxuries

Music is embedded in human DNA; it’s the universal language. Yet, our current education system devalues it by eliminating or severely cutting school music programs. School administrators are often focused on short-term budget matters, not the long-term benefits of music on student academic achievement and cognitive skills.

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Neurobiologists Nina Kraus and her colleagues at Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory published a study in the Journal of Neuroscience. Their research showed that kids who took music lessons for two years not only got better at playing music; they found that musical training improved cognitive skills and helped kid’s brains process speech.

The study took place at Harmony Project in Los Angeles, a nonprofit after-school program that teaches music to children in low-income communities. This area of Los Angeles is a high-crime neighborhood with a high fertility rate. Consequently, there are a lot of little kids with nothing to do after school. Harmony Project was founded to help keep at-risk kids safe and out of trouble. Being involved in music reduced the negative factors of their neighborhood.

Music programs build better brains, so let’s start supporting them. Evidence-based science shows that these programs help kids get better grades and improve social skills, which will carry over into a more functional life. Musical training is not just a luxury.  Taxpayers can also save a lot of money on juvenile incarceration and behavior problems. So, let’s take the long-view and encourage our school administrators and legislators to support music programs.

“Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.” – Hunter S. Thompson

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