Could studying music help students in other subjects? Music education researcher Martin Bergee at the University of Kansas was skeptical, so he studied middle school students in several school districts to find out. Much to his surprise, he noticed that students who were good at music also did well at reading at math. But that does not necessarily mean that being musical makes students smarter. It’s more complicated than that, and one study alone does not show the full picture.
Over the years, several different studies have either shown that students who practice music do better at other school subjects, or find no correlation at all. The reason the results of these studies seem to vary so much is because children don’t learn in isolation, so it’s difficult to measure exactly how one aspect of their lives influences another. How well they do at school depends on their home life, the type of school, the teachers, their family’s socioeconomic background, cultural differences, and so much more. The same factors might influence how well they do in music lessons – or if they even have access to music lessons in the first place.
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