Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. It is thought that brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain's circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.
There is also a link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced mathematics problems to being able to pack a book-bag with everything that will be needed for the day.
Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions and rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. Questions about the arts do not have only one right answer. The process of critical thinking is engaged and developed.
Recent studies show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT and FCAT. They also achieve higher grades in high school.
A study of the arts provides children with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards the people of these cultures. This development of compassion and empathy, as opposed to development of greed and a "me first" attitude, provides a bridge across cultural gaps that leads to respect of other races and creeds at an early age.
Students of music learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed to mediocre work. These standards, when applied to a student's own work, demand a new level of excellence and require students to stretch their inner resources.
In music, a mistake is a mistake. The instrument is in tune or not, the notes are well played or not, the entrance is made or not. It is only by much hard work that a successful performance is possible. Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and the concrete rewards of hard work.
Music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal. The musicians' performance depends on commitment to learning the music, attending rehearsals, and practicing.
Music provides children with a means of self-expression. The challenge is to make life meaningful and to reach for a higher stage of development. Self-esteem is a by-product of this self-expression.
Music study develops skills that are necessary in the workplace. It focuses on "doing" as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform under any circumstance. In the music classroom, students can also learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another.
Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks. A little anxiety is a good thing, and something that will occur often in life. Dealing with it early and often makes it less of a fear later in life. Risk-taking is essential if a child is to fully develop his or her potential.
An arts education exposes children to the incomparable.
Benefits of Music Education:
5 Reasons to Play a Musical Instrument
Music and Your Body: How Music Affects Us and Why Music Therapy Promotes Health
The NAMM Foundation
Article: Music Boosts Test Scores