Benefits of Music Education Outweigh K12 Budget Cuts

Connexeo - 03/16/2018

It is no secret that American public school funding is lower than it has been in the past. Even though the economy has recovered from the Great Recession, public schools have not bounced back completely. 29 states still have less funding per student than they did before 2008. A quarter of all states cut back general funding per student by 7% or more.

With the school funding shortage, districts are forced to scale-back and cut programs to keep their schools afloat. Often, the first programs to go are music programs. On the flipside, sports are unlikely to be cut even though they typically cost much more than music programs. The reasons vary from sports being a major part of the American K12 experience to sports programs bringing in more revenue than music programs. Sure, sporting tickets, spirit wear, and other purchases bring in more regular cash flow than the occasional concert ticket, but is the return on investment in sports really greater than the investment in music education?

The benefits of music and broad and effective long-term. Music is found to be more gender-inclusive than sports education, enabling girls to become more active in an extracurricular. In fact, music improves academic performance and ambition, especially in girls. It is also considered to be a universal language and helps international students become more involved in school activities. Music encourages students to develop collaboration, creative problem-solving and innovation that is necessary in the changing, American economy.

Music education supports the development of the left side of the brain. This is the side of the brain that completes logical, science and math-based thinking. Language and math performance in students who participate in music are found to be higher than students who do not participate in music. In fact, music education is found to improve academic performance across the board. A study of students involved in music at school showed that the mean grade of these students rose every year and were higher than students who did not choose a music course in their curriculum.  Plus, adolescents involved in music education are found to spend less time watching tv or using the internet and more time reading books compared to students who play sports.

Participating in sports does offer its own set of benefits to students. Like music education, playing a sport at school can help improve positive character traits like teamwork, self-discipline and personal responsibility. Being active or exercising, like playing a sport, also acts as a major stress relief for children and improve their sleep. According to K12 Sports USA, other benefits include more disciplined academic performance, access to coaches that provide mentorship, learning about good sportsmanship and even the opportunity for parents to be more involved in their children’s lives. However, sports come with a set of pitfalls that music education avoids.

Where music supports brain development, sports often lead to injuries. In fact, 15% of students participation in football experience a brain injury per season. Sports also serves as a constant distraction from academic focus. Pep rallies, late practices and traveling to games competes with homework and other academic pursuits for time.

Though sports may bring in more revenue from ticket sales and concessions, they come with a number of hidden costs.  In addition to coaches and referees, schools need to pay for field maintenance, transportation to games, insurance for methods of transportation, subs for coaches who might need to travel with a team and helmet conditioning. In a recent case study, a school in Premont, TX decided to cut the sports budget in order to relieve some financial strain on the district. When looking at the budget, they realized that the cost of one season of football could pay for a full-time elementary music teacher. Reducing field maintenance costs or reevaluating the travel schedule might open up funds to keep the music program going. Making some tough choices about an athletics program can keep a district from sacrificing their entire music program and continue to offer a well-rounded education to all students.  

Cutting all sports programs may seem extreme, but so should cutting all music programs. Students benefit the most from a well-rounded education. Like the benefits of sports, the benefits of music in a school curriculum are clear and measurable. Music programs deserve to be on an equal playing field with school sports so students receive the maximum benefit from their education.

Javascript is not enabled. This may affect content rendering. You can enable Javascript in your Settings Menu.