It has long been propounded that music training produces significant non-musical educational benefits. In recent years, important scientific and educational research has provided convincing evidence of the extrinsic value of music education. Particularly noteworthy are neurological research studies published in the last few years showing that children who participate in piano/keyboard instruction demonstrate an especially dramatic improvement in spatial-temporal reasoning abilities – abilities crucial to the comprehension of math and science concepts. This is understood to be a result of the visual-linear representation of the spatial relationships between pitches found on the keyboard.

In addition, child development research has established a clear connection between early involvement in creative artistic activities and the development of healthy self-esteem and self-confidence.

A research team exploring the link between music and intelligence reported that keyboard training is superior to computer or singing instruction in enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills. Neurological Research, Vol. 19, Feb. 1997, Shaw, Rauscher, et al.

Under-achieving first grade students in two Rhode Island elementary schools who were given an enriched, sequential, skill-building music program showed marked improvement in reading and math skills. Nature, May 23, 1996, Gardiner, Fox, Jeffrey and Knowles.

A McGill University study found that scores on pattern recognition and mental representation tests improved significantly for students given piano instruction over a three-year period. The McGill Piano Project, Costa-Giomi, E., April 1998

An Auburn University study found significant increases in overall self-concept of at-risk children participating in a music and arts program. Project ARISE: Meeting the needs of disadvantaged students through the arts. Auburn University, 1992, Barry, N.H.

In the kindergarten classes of Kettle Moraine, WI school district, children who were given keyboard instruction scored 48% higher on spatial-temporal skill. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Volume 15, Issue #2, Sept. 2000, Rauscher, F. and Zupan, M.

An analysis of the US Dept. of Education NELLs88 database, compiled over a period of ten years, showed that students involved in music scored higher than those with no music involvement in standardized tests and proficiency exams. Catterall, J., UCLA, 1997

Music education has taken a back seat in the public school curriculum, often being viewed as a frill and unrelated to the mandates of test score performance. Thus one finds a serious deficiency in the availability and quality of public school music education, most acutely at the all-important early-grade levels. And there is a virtual void in keyboard/piano instruction, as current models of keyboard training are too inefficient with financial, time, space and teacher resources to be suitable for school adoption.

A survey conducted by Keys To Achievement Foundation during the 2001-02 school year of major urban school districts’ K-2nd grade music education programs found less than half of schools were providing a regular weekly general music class to their early-grades.
Even in the cases where schools are giving students once-a-week half-hour general music sessions, these classes are frequently insufficient to have any significance or lasting impact. Singing songs, listening to music, or being introduced to very general musical concepts in once weekly thirty-minute sessions may be enjoyable, but doesn’t reach a standard of meaningful education. The greatest benefits of music training come, as they do with math, reading or any other important subject where attaining lifelong abilities is the goal, from much more active and frequent involvement.

Access to quality school music programs also raises a fundamental issue of equal opportunity. Without in-school music instruction programs, a very large population of children, particularly from lower-income families and disadvantaged communities, misses out entirely on a wonderful life-enhancing opportunity, because out-of-school music training is either unavailable or not financially feasible.

Fortunately, growing numbers of public education officials and politicians are now recognizing the importance music plays in the intellectual development of children and are advocating for the reintroduction of music education into the school curriculum. Important educational institutions and organizations such as the Presidential Committee on the Arts, US Dept. of Education, Council of Chief State School Officers, National School Board Association, American Association of School Administrators, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Education Association, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, California Teachers Association, and National Parent Teacher Association, all have taken a public stance on the merits of in-school music education. And the 106th Congress passed H. CON. RES. 266 in June 2000, giving official recognition to the fact that "music education enhances intellectual development and enriches the academic environment for children of all ages."

Thus there is a growing mandate for quality in-school music education, and a great opportunity exists to help meet this need.

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