Friday, February 13, 2009


Thomas Riggins

Two articles in SCIENCE DAILY online, five years apart, [“New Research Provides The First Solid Evidence That The Study of Music Promotes Intellectual Development” April 20, 2004 & “Adolescents Involved With Music Do Better In School” Feb. 11, 2009] should tell all people interested in the education of children what position to take when arguments are made to cut music programs in the school systems.

It is music and art that are often the first cut for budgetary reasons. The excuse is that they are not as fundamental as math and science. These articles show however that music at least is just as basic as it can be because without it many students will not reach their full intellectual potential and will thus do poorly in math, science, English, and other cognitive subjects.

The science is this. In the first study children who took keyboard lessons or singing lessons who were given IQ tests pre and post the lessons (just one year of lessons!) showed a jump in their IQ scores compared to children who did not get the lessons.

The second study showed that children taking music lessons and who were taken to concerts by their parents were positively effected in their reading and math scores. It also showed, and here is where school programs come in, that “socioeconomic status and ethnicity affect music participation.”

The study showed that “certain groups are disadvantaged in access to music education.” Young Hispanic and Black children are “less likely to take music lessons” than are Whites and Asians.” Family income is a factor.

Whites and Asians are more likely to get private music lessons than Hispanics and Blacks due to income disparity. What this means is that when a school distinct cuts its music program it is deliberately deciding to sacrifice the intellectual development of Black and Hispanic poor children and to make them less intellectually competitive with Whites and Asians. Music classes in schools are absolutely essential to bring about racial equally and to further democratic participation in our society.

Parents should be alert to the fact that any attempt to cut music education, or not to provide it in the first place, is a conscious racist attack on Black and Hispanic people not just a simple budget cut.

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