Music Advocacy

The Right Brian Initiative

Thank you for stopping by this page! In many ways, this one is probably one of the most important here. Music is an extremely rich kind of experience in the sense that it requires cognition, it requires emotion, it requires aesthetics, it develops performance skills, individual capabilities. These things have to be developed and all have to be synchronized and integrated so that, as a person learns music, they stretch themselves mentally in a variety of ways. What we are finding is that the kind of mental stretching that takes place can be of value more generally, that is, to help children in learning other things. And these other things, in turn, can help them in the learning of music, so that there is a dialogue between the different kinds of learning.

Research confirms that music education at an early age greatly increases the likelihood that a child will grow up to seek higher education and ultimately earn a higher salary. If you want to be a CEO, college president, or even a rock star, the message from this survey is: take music. As with reading, writing, and arithmetic, music should be a core academic focus because it is so vital to a well rounded education and will pay dividends later in life, no matter the career path taken.

Respondents of a recent Harris Poll cite skills they learned in music as helping them in their careers today. Seventy-two percent of adults with music education agree that it equips people to be better team players in their career, and nearly six in ten agree that music education has influenced their creative problem-solving skills. Many also agree music education provides a disciplined approach to problem solving, a sense of organization and prepares someone to manage the tasks of their job more successfully.


Harris Interactive survey release, November 12, 2007

Music Education Influences the Business World Positively!

Here's a great Wordpress article once again extolling the value of music education later in life: Please take a moment to have a read!


Studying over 2000 public school students in grades 4-8, a group of researchers from Teachers College Columbia University found significant relationships between rich in-school arts programs and creative, cognitive, and personal competencies needed for academic success. They found:

  • Students in high-arts groups performed better than those in low-arts groups on "measures of creativity, fluency, originality, elaboration and resistance to


  • "Pupils in arts-intensive settings were also strong in their abilities to express thoughts and ideas, exercise their imaginations and take risks in learning."

  • "Students in high-arts schools were "described by their teachers as more cooperative and willing to display their learning publicly."

  • "In schools with high-arts provision, these competencies also emerged in other subject areas."

  • Teachers of non-arts subjects commented on "abilities such as thinking creatively and flexibly, imagining ideas and problems from different perspectives, taking imaginative leaps, and layering one thought upon another as part of a process of problem solving."

  • "In arts-rich schools, pupils are also seen by their teachers as curious, able to express ideas and feelings in individual ways, and not afraid to display their learning before their teachers, peers, and parents."

The study also found that arts add the kind of richness and depth to learning and instruction that is critical to healthy development only in schools where

  • arts provision is rich and continuous,

  • administrators are supportive,

  • teachers are enlightened

"In the arts, whether visual, music, dance, or drama, the ability to explore myriad ideas; envision and try out unusual and personal responses; consider objects, ideas, and experiences in detail; and be willing to keep thoughts open long enough to take imaginative leaps, are all important."

"Schools should develop and offer...a critical mass of arts subjects in visual arts, music, dance, and drama. Within this provision young people must be allowed to study as fully as possible across the arts disciplies. Our results show very clearly that the habits of mind and personal dispositions needed for acedemic success were nurtured in high-arts schools where young people had pursued several arts over a duration of time."

"There was a negative correlation between schools with a paucity of arts instruction and all cognitive and personal dimensions of our study. Thus schools interested in nurturing complex minds should provide a critical mass of arts instruction over the duration of young peoples' school lives."


Judith Burton, Robert Horowitz, and Hal Abeles (1999), "Learning In and Through the Arts: Curriculum Implications," Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning, Arts Education Partnership.

The Importance of Music Education

An education rich in the arts and humanities develops skills that are increasingly crucial to the productivity and competitiveness of the nation’s workforce: the ability to think creatively, communicate effectively and work collaboratively, and to deal with ambiguity and complexity. Just as important, exposure to the arts and humanities fosters cultural literacy: the ability to understand and appreciate other cultures, perspectives and traditions; to read and understand music and literature; to craft a letter or essay; to design a Web site; and to discern the “hidden persuaders” in a political or commercial advertisement. Arts and humanities education also develops skills necessary to participate in one of the fastest-growing, economically significant set of occupations and industries in the American economy – the arts, cultural and intellectual property section. The “creative workforce” – which includes traditional artist categories (dancers, musicians, painters, actors, photographers, authors), as well as individuals employed in advertising, architecture, fashion design, film, video, music, publishing and software development – is growing at a rate more than double that for the rest of the nation’s workforces.


Ann M. Galligan. “Creativity, Culture, Education and the Workforce” Center for Arts and Culture, December 2001

The Georgia Project found that school districts in Georgia that made staffing and funding of their arts programs a priority tended to have higher overall rates of student participation in the arts, and higher rates of arts student retention. Such districts tend to have lower dropout rates in grades 9 – 12 and thus keep their students in school longer and graduate more of them. Students tended to score higher on achievement and performance tests, such as the SAT and Georgia High School Graduation Test. They tended to graduate more of their students with college prep diplomas, percentages increasing with diversity of arts curriculum and percent of students participating. While these findings do not prove a cause and effect relationship, they do indicate "strong arts programs need not come at the expense of academic achievement." Rather, the arts are an important factor in achieving academic excellence.


Executive Summary, The Georgia Project: A Status Report on Arts Education in the State of Georgia, 2004; Dr. John Benham, President, Music in World Cultures Program, Bethel University, St. Paul, MN

"It's always the arts that get cut when money gets tight, (but) it's often band, choir, musicals, being on a sports team, being on a debate team that keep children in school.  We cannot afford to narrow the curriculum, and (teaching the arts) is one the best underutilized strategies for keeping children in school."


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Town Hall Forum, Sacramento, CA. September 3, 2009

“According to a new nationwide survey conducted by the Gallup organization, 95 percent of Americans believe that music is a key component in a child’s well-rounded education. In fact, more than three quarters of those surveyed feel schools should mandate music education…

In a question asked for the first time this year, 80 percent of respondents agreed that making music makes participants smarter. This finding comes on the heels of a decade of scientific research linking active participation in music with improved mental capacity in young children, students and the elderly.”


“Americans Overwhelmingly Want Music Education in Schools.” American Music Conference, Valerie Salvestrini, April 21, 2003.