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In a day and age of mandated testing, the arts are getting cut from different school districts to make room for extra science or math class. Music is no exception.

Yet music is a subject that prepares students for their future. That’s why I do not understand why music is always near the top of the list when it comes time to slash programs.

Plentiful research has been done and has found the role of music in education to further enrich students’ lives in a number of ways, most notably when it comes to academic performance and preparing for their future.

The College Entrance Examination Board found in a study students in music appreciation classes scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math than students with no arts participation. These numerical gaps are quite large.

But it’s not a fluke, more studies have shown the same thing. Prominent researchers Martin Gardiner, Alan Fox, Faith Knowles and Donna Jeffrey found students of lower socioeconomic status who took music lessons in grades 8–12 increased their math, reading, history, geography test scores soared by 40 percent as compared to non-music students.

So what is it that makes these students score better on exams? Some might say it is because music utilizes all outlets of learning (visual, kinesthetic, and auditory). Of course, these are important, but music education can’t be substantiated just through numbers; we must also take a look at the intangible things.

When it comes to music education, Gail Wilson, who has worked as ASU’s trombone professor for over 30 years, has both lived it and seen results year after year. “We are all affected by music in different ways,” Wilson said.

It has affected his character in a positive way. “A lot of the discipline having to do with the exactness of music … has translated into my personal character,” he said.

When recalling his tenure as principal trombonist in the Phoenix Symphony, Wilson said, “The experiences compiled into a richer life.”

Certainly if music can so deeply affect a grown man of Wilson’s stature, it can affect students as well. When music is taught in schools, it is not just about learning a new piece, but preparing the students for life.

“Whether or not a person is going into music as a profession, the discipline for a young person is very important,” Wilson said.

Perhaps it is this discipline accounts for the aforementioned jump in test scores for those students with a music background.

Additionally, Wilson calls music a “wonderful social outlet.” On this level, it is a great help in the students’ development. One of the giants of development theory, Lev Vygotsky, stressed the importance of socially constructed knowledge as a key part of a child’s cognitive development. His theories stand with Jean Piaget’s to this day as the basis of educational psychology.

We all need something like this. As emotional and social creatures, humans need an artistic means with which they create friendships and express themselves.

When it comes time to give the ax to school programs, school boards should think twice about cutting music.

After all, if we have no arts programs, the world would just be numbers and that’s an unacceptable world to bring up our future generations in.

Instead, the number we should be looking at is 40 — as in, a 40 percent difference between those with a musically-inclusive education and those without.

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