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Non-musical benefits of music instruction

Par Stéphanie Boisvert
Maîtrise en éducation musicale avec essai

Résumé de projet

In Quebec province, music is a subject in most general education at the primary and secondary levels. There are however differences between schools about the amount of time spent on music even though contents should be the same. Specifically with emergent programs like language, sport and international education, several school authorities tend to marginalize or even remove music class. In this situation, music educators need solid arguments to demonstrate the importance of music in education. According to Koopman, (1996) arguments that have been advanced in favor of music education can be divided into two groups. First group of arguments stands on intrinsic value of music while the second group stands to the positive non-musical outcomes of musical activities. Music educators agree that music education is best justified by solely musical ends (Cutietta, 1995). Therefore, we cannot exclude non-musical arguments. Subsequently, this presentation intended to provide an overview of different research-based information about extra-musical benefits of music education. Thereafter, arguments can be used to justify music in education programs.

There have been several articles which have proclaimed that music study has many extra-musical benefits (Bolduc, 2006, 2008; Costa-Giomi, 2004; Cutietta, 1996; Hurwitz, 1975; Register, 2001; Standley & Hughes, 1997; Vaughn, 2000). This work provides research-based arguments about extra-musical benefits on different domains. At that time, several studies have established significant correlations between the learning of music and linguistic information particularly in early childhood (Bolduc, 2008; Douglas & Willats, 1994; Lamb & Gregory, 1993; Cutietta, 1995; Anvari et al., 2002). Also, quasi-experimental studies show that children who participate in musical programs develop pre-reading and reading abilities more efficiently than children who do not participate in such programs (Bolduc, 2006, 2008; Register, 2001; Hurwitz, 1975; Standley & Hughes, 1997). Cutietta (1995), for instance, point out studies that provide convincing support that musical skills and mathematical skills are closely related. Furthermore, Vaughn (2000) shows a small causal relationship between music instruction and mathematic performance. Also, Costa-Giomi (2004) found causal effect of piano instruction on children’s self-esteem. Meanwhile, neurologists compare musician’s and non-musician’s brain to better understand relationships between music education and neurological effects. Up until now, Schlaug et al. (2005) demonstrate that it is unlikely that children who choose to play a musical instrument do so because they have atypical brains. These last results are very important for music educators. In fact, this means that every child can beneficiate from music instruction.

In conclusion, aesthetic education movement promotes music education being justified by musical ends. In addition, research-based arguments supporting non-musical benefits like language abilities, mathematical skills, self-esteem and neurological differences can also be used to keep music education in schools curriculum.

Directeur et codirecteur(s) de recherche


  • Bourse de soutien au cheminement normal des études de deuxième cycle octroyée par la Faculté de musique de l’Université Laval. Montant : 500$