Impact of Music Education on Reading Achievement of Elementary Students
12th, December 2012
Music is a part of the fabric that makes up a society. All world cultures recognize music in their culture and place a high value on it, as it is through music that the society carries forward its ideals, thus ensuring continuity of culture. Apart from this role, music today plays many other roles and has many benefits in different areas of society. The manifest benefits of music education in education have led to many learning institutions to adopt music education as a mandatory part in their curriculum. Music education, as various studies have shown, contributes positively to the academic achievement in different study areas.
Music has power and it is relevant in different subjects in schools. However, most schools have not implemented music education in their teaching plans. Music education is particularly of great benefit to the children in primary years as compared to those in higher grades (Cochran, 2008). In comprehension and reading skills, music enhances a pupil’s listening capacity. This is because of the influence music instruction has on the auditory perception of a pupil, which consequently affect their capability to read. In addition, for one to perceive music, there must be interplay of auditory mechanisms, including pitch discrimination, and these are linked to reading capabilities (Huber, 2009).
Different researches have been conducted to ascertain the benefits of music education in academic achievement. First, some researches show that adult musicians who were trained in music before the age of 12 had a better memory for spoken words than those musicians who did not receive any musical training (Butzlaff, 2000). Similarly, studies performed on children in elementary schools between grades 3-5 showed that those children with musical training improved verbal memory as compared to those who lacked music education. Therefore, musical education in elementary schools improves the verbal memory of pupils, which is a vital concept in their reading skills (Cochran, 2008).
In a study published in Psychology of Music (2009), children in the fourth grade, who had never participated in music education, were exposed to a three-year piano instruction. These were afterwards given different tests including, academic tests. The results revealed that piano instruction had an effect on their academic achievement in languages and mathematics, and increased their self-esteem. This was noted after different tests including reading; speaking, writing, and listening were administered on both groups. The group that was not exposed to music education scored poorly. According to Costa-Giomi (2004), the piano lacks much involvement in auditory mechanisms and therefore does not influence reading ability of pupils. However, from these study findings, we learn that the piano instruction, as part of music education is effective in improving academic performance, as it enhances children’s vocabulary and verbal sequencing, which are all important in reading and comprehension. To back this up, Lyons (2008) argues that integrated music education improves reading achievement for students in elementary classes. In another study published in the journal Psychology of Music (2009), children in elementary classes were exposed to complex tonal, rhythmic, and practical skills for one year. These afterwards portrayed a higher cognitive performance than their peers who did not participate in this program. This study therefore reveals that music plays a role in enhancing academic performance especially in language and literacy.
Conclusively, these and more studies have pointed to the links between music and academic achievement. There is a positive relationship between music education and academics. Music education results in increased abilities in non-musical spheres. This is because of the relationship between music interpretation and language interpretation. Educators should therefore, continue to incorporate different approaches in their teaching strategies, including music education, which has been proved to improve reading capabilities of children.
SAGE Publications/Psychology of Music (2009, March 16). Music Education Can Help Children
Improve Reading Skills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 12, 2012 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090316075843.htm
Butzlaff, R. (2000). “Can music be used to teach reading?” Journal of Aesthetic Education,
Cochran, K. (2008). “The Effects of Singing and Chanting on the Reading Achievement and
Attitudes of First Graders.” ProQuest, London.
Costa-Giomi, E. (April 2004). “Effects of Three Years of Piano Instruction on Children’s
Academic Achievement, School Performance, and Self-Esteem.” Psychology of Music. 32 (2), 139-152.
Huber, J. (2009). “Music Instruction and the Reading Achievement of Middle School Students.”
Liberty University. Retrieved December 12, 2012 http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1318&context=doctoral
Lyons, L. (2008). “The Integration of Music with Reading Concepts to Improve Academic
Scores of Elementary Students.” ProQuest, London.
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