Why Play Music-Teens

In This Article:

Photo credit: Rob Davidson Photography

Teens

Educational Benefits/Facts:

  • U.S. Department of Education data on more than 25,000 secondary school students found that students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show "significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12" (U.S. Department of Education NELLS88 Database).
  • Schools with music programs have an estimated 90.2% graduation rate and 93.9% attendance rate compared to schools without music education, which average 72.9% graduation and 84.9% attendance (The National Association for Music Education. "Music Makes the Grade." The National Association for Music Education. Accessed February 24, 2015).
  • Nearly 100% of past winners in the prestigious Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology (for high school students) play one or more musical instruments. This led the Siemens Foundation to host a recital at Carnegie Hall in 2004, featuring some of these young people, after which a panel of experts debated the nature of the apparent science/music link (The Midland Chemist (American Chemical Society) Vol. 42, No.1, Feb. 2005).
  • Music education improves average SAT scores (Arts Education Partnership, 2011).
  • Majorities of parents and teachers believe music education should be required in both middle and high schools (NAMM Foundation and Grunwald Associates LLC, 2015. Striking a Chord: The Public’s Hopes and Beliefs for K–12 Music Education in the United States: 2015).
  • According to The Harmony Project’s website, since 2008, 93 percent of Harmony Project seniors have gone on to college, despite a dropout rate of 50 percent or more in their neighborhoods (© 2015 The Harmony Project).
  • Teens long for more variety and options for making music in school, including the expansion to instruments and technology used in popular music (Presentation to U.S. Congress, 2007, Washington D.C. (Invited and arranged by the National Association of Music Merchants/NAMM, on “The Impact of Music on the Lives of Children and Adolescents”).
  • Teens described their music teachers as encouraging, motivating and acting as both role models and friends that can be trusted for listening and giving advice (Presentation to U.S. Congress, 2007, Washington D.C. Invited and arranged by the National Association of Music Merchants/NAMM, on “The Impact of Music on the Lives of Children and Adolescents”).
     

Social Benefits/Facts:

  • In the past, secondary students who participated in a music group at school reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs) ("The Benefits of Music Education." VH1: Save the Music. Accessed February 24, 2015.
  • Teenagers may use musical experiences to form friendships, and to set themselves apart from parents and younger kids (© 2015 Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS), a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization).
  • Teens feel that playing music teaches self-discipline (Presentation to U.S. Congress, 2007, Washington D.C. Invited and arranged by the National Association of Music Merchants/NAMM, on “The Impact of Music on the Lives of Children and Adolescents”)
  • Teens music as their “social glue” and as a bridge for building acceptance and tolerance for people of different ages and cultural backgrounds (Presentation to U.S. Congress, 2007, Washington D.C. Invited and arranged by the National Association of Music Merchants/NAMM, on “The Impact of Music on the Lives of Children and Adolescents”).
  • Teens look at music as an opportunity in school for engagement as performers, composers and intelligent listeners—activities and qualities that appear to be deeply meaningful to them (Presentation to U.S. Congress, 2007, Washington D.C. Invited and arranged by the National Association of Music Merchants/NAMM, on “The Impact of Music on the Lives of Children and Adolescents”).
  • Teens believe that playing music diminishes boundaries between people of different ethnic backgrounds, age groups and social interests (Presentation to U.S. Congress, 2007, Washington D.C. Invited and arranged by the National Association of Music Merchants/NAMM, on “The Impact of Music on the Lives of Children and Adolescents”).
  • Teens indicate making music provides the freedom for teens to just be themselves; to be different; to be something they thought they could never be; to be comfortable and relaxed in school and elsewhere in their lives (Presentation to U.S. Congress, 2007, Washington D.C. Invited and arranged by the National Association of Music Merchants/NAMM, on “The Impact of Music on the Lives of Children and Adolescents”).
  • Teens are committed to their instruments and their school ensembles because they love to be involved in these musical and social groups; 20% of the respondents specified instruments as part of their musical identities, whether or not they were engaged in school music education (Presentation to U.S. Congress, 2007, Washington D.C. Invited and arranged by the National Association of Music Merchants/NAMM, on “The Impact of Music on the Lives of Children and Adolescents”).
  • Teens believe that music is an integral part of American life, and that music reflects American culture and society; there were 333 mentions of the skills that music education can provide access to, including the historical and cultural significance of music in civilizations and societies (Patricia Shehan Campbell, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, “Adolescents’ Expressed meanings of Music In and Out of School.")


Cognitive Benefits/Facts:

  • Students who take music in middle school score signifcantly higher on algebra assignments in 9th grade than their non-music counterparts (http://www.artsedsearch.org/summaries/window-of-opportunity-adolescence-music-and-algebra#sthash.BvS0RoHP.dpuf). 
  • It’s notable that both teachers (89 percent) and parents (82 percent) rate music education highly as a source for greater student creativity, a 21st century skill that’s highly likely to help young people stand out in an increasling compepetive global economy (NAMM Foundation and Grunwald Associates LLC, 2015. Striking a Chord: The Public’s Hopes and Beliefs for K–12 Music Education in the United States: 2015).
  • Adolescent-centered studies show that even very basic rhythm abilities, such as tapping to a beat, relate with reading skills, and we have provided initial evidence for how both abilities may rely on common underlying neural mechanisms of sound processing (Tierney, A.T. and N. Kraus, The ability to tap to a beat relates to cognitive, linguistic, and perceptual skills. Brain and Language, 2013. 124: p. 225-231).
  • 43 high-school students from impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago randomly assigned to band or choir lessons showed significant increases in their ability to process sounds, while those in a control group, who were enrolled in a junior ROTC program, didn’t (2013 study published in Frontiers in Educational Psychology reported in http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-musical-fix-for-american-schools-1412954652).
  • Teens associate playing music with music literacy, listening skills, motor ability, eye-hand coordination and heightened intellectual capabilities (Presentation to U.S. Congress, 2007, Washington D.C. Invited and arranged by the National Association of Music Merchants/NAMM, on “The Impact of Music on the Lives of Children and Adolescents”).
  • Teens believe music helps adolescents release or control emotions and helps coping with difficult situations such as peer pressure, substance abuse, pressures of study and family,the dynamics of friendships and social life, and the pain of loss or abuse (Presentation to U.S. Congress, 2007, Washington D.C. Invited and arranged by the National Association of Music Merchants/NAMM, on “The Impact of Music on the Lives of Children and Adolescents”).


Testimonials/Facts:

"Music is my life. It's a safe haven." - Student @ Skaneateles High School

“Our school has created a culture that considers the music education part of our programming, as a real partner in the full development and academic achievement for our students.” - Dinorah Marquez, Program Director, Latino Arts Strings Program

“[In the Latino Arts Strings Program] I had a wide range of ages to talk to, to play music with, to laugh with. Even though we were in a strict musical setting, they helped me find parts of myself that are not musical.” -  Fatima Gomez, BGCS/Latino Arts Strings Program Alumnus

More Benefits/Facts:

A study by Patricia Shehan Campbell, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, called “Adolescents’ Expressed meanings of Music In and Out of School,” reveals the meaning and importance of music participation in the lives of middle and high school adolescents, including those enrolled and not enrolled in school music programs. The research was based on responses by 1,155 teens who submitted student essays to Teen People magazine as part of an online contest inviting teens to speak out to help prevent the further elimination of music programs in schools across the country. The findings conclude that teens:

  • See music as their “social glue” and as a bridge for building acceptance and tolerance for people of different ages and cultural backgrounds.
  • Look at music as an opportunity in school for engagement as performers, composers and intelligent listeners—activities and qualities that appear to be deeply meaningful to them.
  • Associate playing music with music literacy, listening skills, motor ability, eye-hand coordination and heightened intellectual capabilities.
  • Spoke with the experience of eight to 12 years of schooling in their young lives concerning music’s place in school curriculum, the relationship of music to other subjects, the quality of instruction and their perceived need for change to develop more relevant courses and repertoires.
  • Believe music helps adolescents release or control emotions and helps coping with difficult situations such as peer pressure, substance abuse, pressures of study and family, the dynamics of friendships and social life, and the pain of loss or abuse.
  • Feel that playing music teaches self discipline.
  • Believe that playing music diminishes boundaries between people of different ethnic backgrounds, age groups and social interests.
  • Indicate making music provides the freedom for teens to just be themselves; to be different; to be something they thought they could never be; to be comfortable and relaxed in school and elsewhere in their lives.
  • Long for more variety and options for making music in school, including the expansion to instruments and technology used in popular music.
  • Are committed to their instruments and their school ensembles because they love to be involved in these musical and social groups; 20% of the respondents specified instruments as part of their musical identities, whether or not they were engaged in school music education.
  • Believe that music is an integral part of American life, and that music reflects American culture and society; there were 333 mentions of the skills that music education can provide access to, including the historical and cultural significance of music in civilizations and societies.
  • Described their music teachers as encouraging, motivating and acting as both role models and friends that can be trusted for listening and giving advice.
Age Group: