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High school fine arts programs enhance learning in other subjects 

‘Tis the season of school choral concerts and bands marching in holiday parades. But educators know best that the benefits of music programs in high schools far exceed their festive contributions during the holiday season.

Extensive research of students in fine arts programs shows a strong correlation between music and academic achievement.

“Learning and performing music actually exercise the brain – not merely by developing specific music skills, but also by strengthening the synapses between brain cells…What is important is not how well a student plays but rather the simultaneous engagement of senses, muscles, and intellect,” writes Dr. Norman Weinberger, in his paper “Music in Our Minds,” a professor at UC-Irvine who has spent years studying music and the brain.

Weingberger goes on to say that it is not a merely hypothesis, but that evidence shows that brain activity is substantially heightened through music. “Brain scans taken during musical performances show that virtually the entire cerebral cortex is active while musicians are playing...In short, making music actively engages the brain synapses, and there is good reason to believe that it increases the brain’s capacity by increasing the strengths of connections among neurons.”

More specifically, students who are consistently involved with band and orchestra throughout junior high and high school, score higher in math by grade 12 than their classmates who do not participate, according to researchers at UCLA.

In the results of their study, “Involvement in the Arts and Human Development,” the group of says that the benefits may even go deeper for certain students. “The results were even more pronounced when comparing students from low-income families. Those who were involved in orchestra or band were more than twice as likely to perform at the highest levels in math as their peers who were not involved in music.”

To learn more about a Chicago school with strong music programs, contact Marian Catholic High School at (708) 755-7565.


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