Music education: a must for young learners?
One of the greatest philosophers of the Classical period, Plato, once said, “I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys of learning.” While some may argue that music isn’t as important as the core academic subjects, many would disagree. In fact, it may surprise you to know that a number of research studies have shown that music education has a positive impact on students’ learning achievement and personal balance.
Music for academic success
Another popular theory, known as the “Mozart Effect” argues that music may boost short-term cognitive functions and could enhance the brain's ability to master tasks involving language skills, memory, and attention. Additionally, a nice melody can help create a focused learning atmosphere.
In support of that theory, a study has shown evidence that the art in question has major effects on many aspects of cognitive ability, including memory. The study, which is based on neurobiology research, suggests that a good tune may also increase the potential of human performance. Music trains the brain for higher forms of thinking, says another recent study from the University of California.
Music for inner balance
While young learners may feel overwhelmed by academic work or social pressure, music seems to be an excellent way to help relieve stress and offers the opportunity for humans to express their feelings. British dramatist William Congreve suggested in 1697 that “Music tames the savage beast.” Indeed, music can channel negative emotions such as stress, sadness, or a sense of frustration which can be felt by boarders, particularly when away from their family.
Music has also a key role in setting good moods. According to a group of researchers from McGill University, the University of Barcelona, and the Hospital de Saint Pau of Barcelona, there would be a link between music and the increase of dopamine release – the neurotransmitter associated with hedonic experiences.
The IB Diploma programme offers the DP Music course as part of its curriculum. Music appears to be of a precious contribution to keeping students on a stable path of personal and academic growth.
 Harvard Men's Health Watch, Music and health (July 2011)