Acquiring Mathematics Skills studying at Beats and Tunes
“…Research has clearly found that music instruction helps develop the capacity for spatial-temporal reasoning, which is integral to the acquisition of important mathematics skills. One explanation is musical training in rhythm emphasizes proportion, patterns, fractions and ratios expressed as mathematical relations.
U.S. Department of Education data showed that students involved in band or orchestra during their middle and high school years demonstrated significantly higher levels of math proficiency by grade 12. The results were even more pronounced for low-income families. Those who took instrumental music were more than twice as likely to perform at the highest levels in math as their peers who were not involved in music (Catterall, 2002). Similar findings were found by Helmrich (2010) who concluded that formal instrumental instruction was positively correlated with algebra achievement. He also analyzed the data for differences between white and black students, finding that students of both races performed better than those who received no music instruction. Interestingly, the degree to which music instruction affects the achievement of black students is greater than that of white students.
A meta-analysis of 15 studies involving 701 children ages 3 to 12 years (Hetland, 2000) suggested that children provided with music instruction score higher than controls on spatial-temporal tasks. Children who begin music instruction very early in life are likely to show the greatest benefits. And longitudinal research suggests that at least two years of music instruction are required for sustained enhancement of spatial abilities (Rauscher, 2002).
Other studies have demonstrated the correlation between music and academic performance at a young age. These include Cutietta (1998) who found that elementary school children who played in the orchestra scored considerably higher on math and spatial intelligence tests and Shaw (2000), who conducted a four-month study on the effects of piano instruction on making spatial and temporal distinctions. The second-graders who received piano instruction for 25 minutes each week scored 15% higher than the test cell and 27% higher on questions devoted to proportional
math. Shaw concluded that piano lessons condition the brain and that spatial awareness and the need to think ahead reinforced latent neuronal patterns.”
Music Empowers Foundation