People debate what schools should teach. Schools receiving federal funds generally focus on test subjects such as reading and math. The logic is that by spending the most time studying these subjects, the students' test scores will rise. Evidence shows that the benefits of music education outweigh any negative consequences such as loss of time studying for tests.
At the Emory News Center, Kerry Ludlam reports on a study showing that compared to other leisure activities, learning to play a musical instrument has long-term cognitive benefits. Children who participate in music lessons tend to suffer less decline in memory as they age. The report also mentions that it is never too late to start; taking music lessons at any age increases overall memory skills.
Some see the nonjudgmental nature of music classes as a drawback. With the No Child Left Behind program monitoring test scores in public schools, the schools have focused heavily on graded subjects. At the University of Michigan, experts acknowledge that because progress in music and the arts may not be objectively measured, many perceive them as not important to education.
Studying music helps students develop multiple skills that will remain valuable throughout life. Music students learn self-discipline and the importance of paying attention to details such as tempo, tone and rhythm. Information from Kent University reveals that experts at the University of Montreal credit this musical multitasking with teaching the brain organization skills and the ability to handle multiple pieces of information at once.
Gender bias and gender role stereotyping continue to exist in schools, and according to experts at the University of Michigan it is especially prominent in music education. Expectations of gender are expressed via choice of instrument; for example, a boy is more likely to play the drums and a girl to play piano. There seems to be a strong need to give students the opportunity to explore music and instruments.