Structured music lessons deepen children’s cognitive abilities - including language-based reasoning, short-term memory, planning and inhibition, which lead to dramatically better academic performance. Published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, the research is the first significant, longitudinal study to be adapted into the regular school curriculum.
Visual arts lessons were also found to improve children’s visual and spatial memory in a big way. Music education has been relegated to the back bench in schools around the globe, owing primarily to competition with academic subjects. Learning a music instrument is seen as more of a luxury than a necessary part of education.
“Despite indications that music has beneficial effects on cognition, music is disappearing from general education curricula,” says Dr Artur Jaschke, from Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam, who led the study. The researchers conducted the study with 147 children across multiple Dutch schools, using a structured musical method. While all schools followed the regular primary school curriculum, some provided supplementary music or visual arts classes, where the children were given both theoretical and practical lessons.
After 2.5 years, it was found that children who received music lessons reported significant cognitive improvements compared to all other children in the study.