Be an Einstein
By Paula Taylor, Windsor Press - Merchandiser - Back to School 8/8/2006
Dr. Riley, Secretary of Education, introduced a remarkable report in October 1999. Although the report addresses all subjects addressed by arts education, not just music or any other single subject, music education dominates the document. The report clearly reflects that arts in education, particularly music, “change the learning experience in special ways.” Specifically, music engages students who are not otherwise engaged by school, stimulates students in ways that other disciplines do not, fosters self awareness and connections with others, gives adults entry to the lives of young people, challenges students who are successful in other disciplines, connects academic learning experiences to real-world applications, provides opportunities for direct interaction with accomplished artists and long-term artistic process, encourages life-long, self-directed learning. Amazingly, students involved in sustained arts education perform better in a wide range of academic subjects and on standardized tests.
The earlier children become involved in music, and the longer their involvement, the greater the benefits. Children with early musical experience are more advanced than their peers in expressive language, reading and spelling . In preschoolers trained in rhythmic skills, researchers find that the cognitive skills most related to academic success are more developed than in children who do not have rhythmic training . With just eight months of keyboard lessons, preschoolers tested 46% higher in ”spatial IQ,” a capacity crucial to later understanding of complex mathematics
Albert Einstein, who played violin all of his life , said, 'If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music...I get most joy in life out of music .' About his theory of relativity, Einstein said, 'It occurred to me by intuition, and music was the driving force behind that intuition. My discovery was the result of musical perception .' On Wednesday, May 4, 2005, as part of a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the publication of the five papers in which Einstein introduced his famous theory, the U.S. Department of Energy's Jefferson Lab and Hampton University, co-hosted an event, 'Einstein and his Violin.' The event, central in a year-long recognition of a tremendously advanced scientific mind, signifies the scientific community’s recognition of the importance of music – not only to Einstein’s achievements, but to mental development in general.
In addition to academic benefits, in-school music programs seem to yield social benefits. In schools that have in-school guitar instruction, students who do not work up-to-potential in other areas often excel in the guitar programs. Also in schools that have guitar programs and other pop-music in their curricula, a greater number of students who are typically at greater risk for drop out remain in school until graduation . The programs also seem to create an environment in which more parents become stakeholders in their children=s education. And, the guitar programs have not adversely affected participation in band, orchestra or choir. Instead, the national program reports that the in-school guitar programs strengthen traditional school music programs by creating new entry points to music in grades 6-12 . This fact is especially important since schools often see a fall-off in student participation in arts education in grades 10, 11 and 12. Therefore, by attracting students back to the arts, guitar programs seem to be a gateway to a facet of education that enriches students’ capacity for other learning.
We applaud the in-school music programs in our local school districts and encourage you and your children to take advantage of the fun and enrichment that those programs provide. If you are interested in more information about music/brain research, visit the Music Educators’ Association at www.menc.org, the American Music Conference at , the University of Texas’ Institute of Music Research at imr.utsa.edu, or any of the references cited in this article. For information on stringed instruments and playing them, visit us at Meadowood Music on the web at or in person at 8521 Allentown Pike, Blandon, PA.
1 'Champions of Change,” 1999, Arts Education Partnership and the President's Council on the Humanities.
2 Music Educators of Berks County PA,
3 “The Relationship Between Music and Language Achievement in Early Childhood,” Judy Ann Hove Harding, Montana State University, 1989.
4 “The Relationship between Rhythmic Competency and Academic Performance in First Grade Children,” Debby Mitchell, University of Central Florida, 1994.
5 Frances Rauscher, Ph.D., Gordon Shaw, PhD, University of California, Irvine. National Coalition for Music Education.
6 American Museum of Natural History,
7 “What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck,”The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929.
9 The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and Hampton University are in Newport News, VA
10 ( A national training program for music teachers Teaching Guitar - Grades 4th-12th,( created 500 new guitar teachers who, during the program’s first five years, introduced guitar to over 139,000 students.
11 Both High Schools and Universities find incorporation of ethnic and popular music in their curricula increase the rate of retention to graduation of at-risk students including economically disadvantaged, Hispanic & Native American (http://hed.state.nm.us/cms/kunde/rts/hedstatenmus/docs/36810676-06-09-2006-14-41-45.pdf - New Mexico Dept of Higher Education), African American (http://www.ctl.ua.edu/msp/Journal/Spring2006/Journal/LaToya%20Scott.pdf - University of Alabama).
12 Accounts of in-school guitar program success appear on the GAMA web site,