With budget cuts pressing schools across the nation to prioritize their course offerings and expenditures, many schools have opted to slash funding to their music and arts programs. At first glance, this may seem like a wise decision. After all, these programs are just fun extras, right? Not exactly.
Arts Education Has Been Linked to Better Academic Performance
Students with four years of art or music throughout their high school career score on average about 100 points higher on the SATs than students without these programs. These benefits also extended across GPAs, drop-out rates, and general testing scores. The reasons for this are unclear, but it is thought that the arts may give students a “cool down session” from the more rigorous subjects. Sort of an active learning rest period.
Countries with Mandatory Arts Programs Perform Better
The countries with the highest rankings in math and science – Japan, the Netherlands, and Hungary – have mandatory arts programs. While it is difficult to compare curricula between countries, as the overall teaching focus is different, the correlation is in line with the findings of U.S. studies.
Learning a Musical Instrument Promotes Life Skills
Studies have shown that children who study a musical instrument generally work better in teams and perform better at critical thinking assessments than those that don’t. This may be because of the cooperation and awareness that it takes to play an instrument in harmony with others. Even listening certain music, such as Mozart, has shown to improve student performance on tests.
Music and Arts Have Been Linked to Lower Substance Abuse Rates
Students who participate in music and arts programs have lower current and lifetime rates of drug use. Music and arts have been identified as helping to relieve stress, which may reduce the pressure to try drugs.