Research corner

23rd January 2015 at 00:00

`How learning a musical instrument affects the development of skills' by Hille, A and Schupp, J

Economics of Education Review, 44:56-82, February 2015 (Elsevier)

It appears that music training may help you hit a top A in more ways than one. According to new research from Germany, learning a musical instrument may improve academic performance.

The study took data from the SOEP, a German panel study that surveys a random sample of households (including adolescents) each year on a wide variety of socio-economic elements, such as the study of music, school results and personality.

From the survey data, researchers were able to get a sample size of about 4,000 respondents who were aged 17 between 2001-12. The survey allowed them to see if respondents played a musical instrument, the age at which they began to learn and whether they played alone or in a group.

The results show that students who begin music lessons at primary school are more likely to achieve better grades, be motivated to finish secondary school and progress to higher education. In addition, the academics highlight that students who play a musical instrument are more likely to be "conscientious and open" than their peers. These effects were shown to be stronger in students from poorer backgrounds.

So, if you haven't already, pop up to the attic and dust off that old Casio keyboard - it may just help your students more than you might think.

Sarah Cunnane

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