Why Music Matters by Lauren Conklin

What do Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Woodrow Wilson, and Henry Ford all have in common? Besides being highly successful innovators and leaders, these men shared a passion for the violin. All of them were avid students of music in their spare time.
I believe, and current research tends to support, that their training as violinists helped to shape the characteristics that made these men extraordinary. Einstein himself claimed that his academic brilliance was directly influenced by his music education. Whenever he was
stuck on a particularly difficult equation, he would turn to music for answers—in one interview, he said, “The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception.”
In light of recent research into the effects of music education, Einstein's statement is not surprising. A 2006 study by the University of Kansas found that students enrolled in music courses scored consistently higher than their peers on standardized tests—22% higher in English, and 20% higher in Math. Additionally, The College Board found that SAT scores of music students were an average of 103 points higher than those of non- music students.1  

There is a substantial body of research that explains why test scores are so much higher in music students. The University of Vermont found that children who play an instrument have increased activity in areas of the brain responsible for executive functioning skills like memory, attention, and organizational skills. In fact, the effects of music education on attention and emotional control are so great that researchers believe learning an instrument could be a powerful treatment for learning disabilities like ADHD or anxiety.2

Learning an instrument, especially an un-fretted stringed instrument like cello or violin, develops a heightened awareness of space and spatiotemporal relationships (how are your fingers positioned over the fingerboard throughout a piece? How do you coordinate where your bow ends up within a passage of music?). This awareness of space and relationships within space directly correlates to a student's ability to picture abstract mathematical concepts. Music can even help with learning a new language—music students gain an increased ability to listen for pitch and rhythm, making it easier for them to internalize new cadences of speech.3

I have experienced first hand the incredible effects of music education. I began studying the violin when I was 5 years old, and I firmly believe that my academic success, even throughout college, was due in large part to the skills I learned by practicing my violin. Practicing taught me diligence and persistence, gave me a constructive outlet for stress, and helped me to connect with my peers on a deeper level as we worked together to prepare for performances and lessons. I have been blessed by the way music brings together complete strangers through its universally understood language, crossing cultural and social divides in a way no spoken word can. I believe passionately that music changes lives for the better, and this is why I teach. I teach because I believe all children deserve the chance to be enriched and blessed as I have been, and because I know first hand the joy of playing an instrument.

I currently teach in the Brentwood area, and would love to talk to you about violin lessons for your child! Please contact me at 615-517-5399 or laurenconklinmusic at gmail dot com.

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