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The Research


  • There is much evidence that poverty, and the chronic stress it creates, hinders the development of young brains. However, new research finds one important aspect of neural functioning is gradually strengthened when underprivileged children engage in a challenging but fun activity: Music lessons.
  • Those who spent two years participating in a free music-instruction program processed the sound of certain syllables more rapidly than their peers with less musical training.
  • Findings provide support for the efficacy of community and co-curricular music program to engender improvements in nervous system function.


  • Art and music education programs are mandatory in countries that rank consistently among the highest for math and science test scores (Japan, Hungary, Netherlands)
  • Sustained learning in music and theatre correlates strongly with higher achievement in both math and reading.
  • Curricular and extracurricular art studies and activities help keep high-risk dropout students stay in school.
  • New brain research shows that not only does music improve skills in math and reading, but it promotes creativity, social development, personality adjustment, and self-worth


  • Musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight.
  • The age at which musical training begins affects brain anatomy as an adult; beginning training before the age of seven has the greatest impact.
  • Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, leading to less reliance on working memory and more extensive connectivity within the brain.


  • ¬†School children exposed to drama, music, and dance may do a better job at mastering reading, writing, and math
  • Arts education may be especially helpful to poor students and those in need of remedial instruction