Music education has more impact and feels more relevant to students when it includes songs from current culture, District Administration reports.
Increasing participation in music education programs is important because students who participate tend to have higher graduation rates, better attendance and higher standardized test scores, according to research from the NAMM Foundation, the charitable arm of the national music merchants’ trade organization.
A non-profit group called Little Kids Rock in New Jersey believes pop songs have a better chance of catching a child’s imagination and inspiring them to learn more about music, and it hosts workshops for teachers as well as giving more than 10,000 instruments to schools annually.
At a time when budgetary concerns impact most educational decisions, music education often falls to the bottom of the list of priorities. Yet most educators know that music plays a big role in the lives of many students. It makes sense to connect that interest back to education, especially when music is proven to have benefits beyond that of entertainment alone.
While including popular music forms helps to engage students and adds relevancy to the instruction in the eyes of students, music education should also still include introduction to the more classical forms of music — not only for historical context, but also because the structure of the music provides a framework that connects to other aspects of education. As Katherine Lee states in an article about the "Mozart Effect," "studies show it’s not that passively listening to classical music makes you smarter; it's that music learning opens doorways to other learning and strengthens the skills kids will use the rest of their lives in school and beyond.” Studies also show that the educational benefits of music are most effective when students are performing the music, not just listening to it.
But music also offers social and emotional benefits, as well. Various forms of music can excite or calm a student. Sharing the musical connection by group listening can have a bonding effect, and that effect is strengthened by performing music together. There are few stronger senses of unity than that of working together in a band, chorus or orchestra to create a single musical experience. Music fosters creativity which can unleash out-of-the-box thinking that cuts across multiple subject areas.