Have you ever created a song to help you remember the names of the presidents? Or maybe you learned how a bill gets turned into a law by listening to that catchy "I'm Just a Bill" song from "Schoolhouse Rock!" Music seems to have always existed alongside education, and there's a reason for that.

According to USC neuroscientists, music instruction has been seen to accelerate brain development in children by improving socio-emotional and cognitive development. Music is unique in that it uses both sides of the brain as seen by UCF professors: the right side interprets sounds, while the left side interprets language.

The importance of music education goes beyond the band or choir room. A child's performance in school is enhanced by music, which helps with social skills development and fosters creativity — both of which are vital to a student's growth.

How music can benefit educational settings:

Boosts learning outcomes

Students who receive musical education gain language skills since they are introduced to a large vocabulary in a relatively short period of time. Students are exposed to lyrics, sometimes in other languages, creating a foundation for learning new words not only in their native language, but in other languages as well, which makes music a strong tool for language learning.

Students begin to understand the benefits of learning music when they see that their hard work pays off. Music education teaches kids that in order to succeed, they must be disciplined and put in the practice needed to improve. Once a student sees that their hard work is paying off in music, they might begin to apply that discipline to other subjects.

Enhances memory recall

Music isn't just about music lessons. Can't remember which letter comes after "W?" You probably sing the ABCs song in order to remember that it's "X." You may still be able to recite all 50 states by singing "Fifty Nifty United States," which is likely the song your parents learned, and your kids will learn as well.

Teachers have long claimed that music helps students memorize information and data can back up this theory. In 2019, research published in Elsevier found that when it came to aiding students in remembering material, an arts-integrated approach to teaching science was just as effective — or in some cases even more so — than conventional methods. Music has a way of getting into our brains and sticking to it, which can make it a valuable tool when teaching kids memorization techniques.

Fosters a more engaging and inclusive classroom

It's a well-known fact that music is a universal language. It can trigger a response from an otherwise unengaged student. Music can support any subject and provide an opportunity for students to participate in an exciting, relatable way.

Young students tend to learn better when they are physically and cognitively active. Allowing students to perform music, whether to demonstrate learning concepts or just to take a break from a math lesson, requires group coordination. According to research published in Frontiers in Psychology, working with others to keep rhythm or harmony can create positive feelings, which can increase trust between students and between students and their teacher.

How teachers can use music in the classroom:

Teachers can effectively and creatively engage students and enhance curriculum by incorporating music into their lessons. Take a look at a few examples of how teachers can integrate music into their classrooms:

  • Underscore discussions of "The Iliad" with lyre-accompanied epic songs.
  • When teaching students about the Underground Railroad, listen to the songs Harriet Tubman played in order to secretly communicate with escaping slaves.
  • Each time a new science concept is introduced, play a memorable song like the theme song for "Bill Nye The Science Guy," to let students know they are about to learn something new.
  • Use background music. Play calming, classical music during study period to allow students to relax and stay focused.
  • Have students create and perform a catchy song to demonstrate the order of operations in math.

From music class to the real world

Integrating music into educational settings can improve student performance, improve memory recall and create a more engaging classroom atmosphere. Musical benefits for students transcend beyond the music room and can teach students to approach other subjects in more creative, innovative ways.

Students learn real-world skills such as discipline and collaboration through music. Studies from the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC show that two years of music education improve engagement of students' brain networks involved in making decisions. The ability for students to apply what they learned in music education to real-world situations demonstrates why music education is important.