The relationship between instrumental music instruction and academic achievement in fourth-grade students
The purpose of this research is to investigate the relationship between academic achievement in elementary school children participating in an instrumental music program (band or orchestra) to those children not participating in an instrumental music program. While research in this area has suggested a positive correlation between exposure to music and cognitive abilities (spatial, temporal, mathematical, language abilities), it is yet to be determined if learning to play a musical instrument is related to academic achievement.
Seventy, fourth grade children enrolled in regular classroom settings were evaluated in spelling achievement, arithmetic achievement and phonemic awareness in the beginning of the school year (prior to the introduction of instrumental instruction) and reevaluated nine months later, at the end of the school year. Additionally, a short-questionnaire was given to each child. All participants were from a suburban, public elementary school. The comparison groups are: children studying an instrument prior to the introduction of band and orchestra in fourth grade (Group A), children just beginning the study of an instrument (Group B), and children with no experience in instrumental instruction (Group C). For all three groups, the academic achievement scores obtained in the beginning of the year were compared to the academic achievement scores obtained at the end of the school year.
Spelling and mathematical achievement were assessed using the Wide Range Achievement Test-III. Tests of phonemic awareness were administered using the Word Identification and Word Attack subtests from the Woodcock Johnson Test of Achievement. While both the experimental groups and the control group were expected to show gains after one year across all dependent variables, it was hypothesized that those children participating in an instrumental music program would show significantly greater gains: (a) on a test of spelling achievement, (b) on a test of mathematical achievement, and (c) on a test of word identification, and (d) on a test of phonemic awareness, than those children not participating in an instrumental program. It was further hypothesized that those children studying an instrument for greater than one school year would demonstrate greater gains across spelling, math, word identification, and phonemic awareness than those children with only one year of experience or no experience. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
0522: Music education