Music students score higher in maths, science, and English than non-music student peers

Desk research by the University of British Colombia, Canada, shows that high school, also known as secondary school, students who take qualifying music courses score significantly higher in exams in other subjects such as maths and science, than their non-musical peers.

Qualifying music courses included concert band, conservatory piano, orchestra, jazz band, concert choir and vocal jazz. General music or guitar courses did not qualify as they required no previous music experience and, in the case of general music, did not require music-making or practice.

The researchers examined the school records of all students in British Columbia who started the first grade between 2000 and 2003; completed the last three years of high school; and had completed at least one standardised exam for maths, science or English. Of the 112,916 student records studied, approximately 13% of the students had participated in at least one music course in grade 10, 11 or 12.

“It’s believed that students who spend school time in music classes, rather than in further developing their skills in math, science and English classes, will underperform in those disciplines,”said Peter Gouzouasis, Ph.D., of the University of British Columbia, who co-authoured the study with Martin Guhn, Ph.D. and Scott Emerson, MSc, also from the University of British Columbia. “Our research suggests that, in fact, the more they study music, the better they do in those subjects.

“Students who participated in music, who had higher achievement in music, and who were highly engaged in music had higher exam scores across all subjects, while these associations were more pronounced for those who took instrumental music rather than vocal music,” he added. “On average, the children who learned to play a musical instrument for many years, and were now playing in high school band and orchestra, were the equivalent of about one academic year ahead of their peers with regard to their English, mathematics and science skills, as measured by their exam grades.”

SOURCES:
American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2019/06/music-students-score-better
Journal of Educational Psychology: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/edu-edu0000376.pdf
Medical Xpress: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-06-music-students-score-math-science.html
Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190624111504.htm
Interesting Engineering: https://interestingengineering.com/is-music-the-answer-to-better-grades-in-school
Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/evaamsen/2019/06/25/high-school-students-do-better-in-science-math-and-english-if-they-also-take-music-lessons/#58efd29a2fda
Discover Magazine: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2019/06/24/music-classes-academic-achievement/#.XRi4fJNKhsM
Vancouver Sun: https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/ubc-study-is-music-to-parents-ears
Pacific Standard: https://psmag.com/education/taking-a-music-course-could-help-students-boost-grades-in-other-subjects

DETAILS:

BENEFIT: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT & ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
TARGET GROUP: YOUNG PEOPLE
AGE: 12-17 YEARS-OLD
MUSIC TYPE: FORMAL MUSIC EDUCATION
TYPE OF STUDY: ACADEMIC RESEARCH
NOs INVOLVED: 112,916
PERIOD OF STUDY: UNKNOWN
DATE: 2019
PLACE: CANADA

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

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