Guest Column

Can you imagine a world without music?

April 21, 2011

By Sean Yarolin

Can you imagine a world without music?

Music is something we often take for granted. But imagine it didn’t exist. Imagine no radio, no music when you are driving in the car, no music at movies, and no dancing.
Without music the world would be a pretty boring place. But even more importantly, music makes people happier and more successful, and is just as important as other school subjects.

How do you keep music alive? Well, the answer is simple. Teach music in schools. Most schools teach music classes. However, as many school districts throughout the country consider budget cuts because of funding reductions, the music program often is one of the first to be cut. Many parents and community members fail to appreciate how music contributes to students’ personal and academic success. In some ways, music is just as important as more traditional academic subjects like math and science.

Music education improves grades and also can cause students to make healthier life choices. Believe it or not, music education has been proven to increase middle school students’ academic abilities in multiple subjects, including reading comprehension, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Music Psychology. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Research in Music Education showed that students in good music programs averaged 22 percent higher on English tests than students who had worse or non-existent music education programs. Other studies have shown that music education increases the average scores of high school students in math and sciences. In fact, the College Board’s 2001 “Profile of College – Bound Seniors National Report” showed that students who played instruments scored on average 43 points better than non-musical students on the math section on the SAT. In the verbal section of the SAT, there was a 60-point difference. Music education helps improve students’ math and verbal skills. In addition, a higher score on the SAT is surely helpful come college application time.

However, not all of the advantages of music education are academic. Music relieves stress and can cause people to think more rationally and act less aggressively. Also, many people enjoy playing music. More importantly, students who play instruments or sing in chorus make healthier life choices. A 1998 report by the Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse stated that students involved in music programs have a much lower chance of using drugs or other harmful substances as students and when they grow up. Music education also helps to round out a person. After all, people shouldn’t just study textbooks all day. There is more to life then that, and it is important that we teach it.
Some people would claim that music is not an important subject, because few careers require music education. However, music makes students happier, more successful, and better people. A very small number of people are professional musicians, but they hold the power to bring joy to the rest of the world, and many people still play music occasionally for fun. In many ways, teaching music really is just as important as teaching math and science. That is why it is important to keep music alive in schools.

Sean Yarolin is an eighth grade student at Williston Central School.