Teachers, professors, and other educators from the whole world try to find effective ways to improve students’ learning abilities and academic performance. They typically focus on various teaching methods and strategies to make children more involved in a learning process, and music can be a useful option in this case. Different opinions exist regarding whether introducing music to the learning environment offers essential benefits, and numerous scholarly works address this issue. Thus, the given research paper will demonstrate that even though the existing evidence comment on the versatile effects of music on learning, its advantages outweigh the drawbacks, justifying the use of this methodology.
Defining Music in Learning
To begin with, one should explain how educators can use music in their classrooms. Firstly, playing sounds and background music is a popular approach (Degrave, 2019). In this case, music is a constant phenomenon in the classroom and serves as a background for children’s activities. Secondly, Degrave (2019) mentions that teachers can encourage their students to sing as an alternative to monotonous classroom activities. This methodology can make the learning process more versatile, exciting, and live. Thirdly, it is reasonable to introduce rhythmical activities to promote learning. For example, Degrave (2019) states that this methodology is useful for foreign language learners. Since it has been demonstrated how music can be inserted into learning, the following paragraphs will comment on its benefits and drawbacks.
Positive Impact of Music on Learning
One should mention that music brings advantages to various learning spheres. For example, Holmes and Hallam (2017) indicate that musical activity leads to better spatial-temporal reasoning. In turn, this fact explains why children face improved mathematical abilities. However, it is necessary to admit that enhancement is more noticeable for the youngest children, and they are 4-year-old individuals in the study by Holmes and Hallam (2017). Simultaneously, sufficient evidence demonstrates that involving music can improve children’s reading abilities. Yen-Ning et al. (2017) argue that Mozart’s music has a “positive effect in reducing learning anxiety and improving the students’ reading rates” (p. 101). It happens because classical music has a specific impact on people’s brains and behavior, and promoting reading is one of the possible outcomes. That is why there is clear reasoning behind introducing musical interventions in young children’s learning.
The phenomenon under analysis is also useful when it comes to foreign language learning. On the one hand, Degrave (2019) admits that music positively affects non-linguistic factors, including motivation, anxiety, and personality. It is so because versatile activities in the classroom make pupils more interested and engaged. On the other hand, this intervention can also offer essential advantages regarding linguistic aspects. In particular, it refers to “vocabulary acquisition, listening comprehension, writing skills, or phonetic acquisition” (Degrave, 2019, p. 415). This idea implies that using musical interventions positively influences academic performance and contributes to children’s adequate psychological development. That is why it is reasonable for educators to analyze and consider how they can implement the intervention under analysis to achieve the best learning outcomes for their students.
Furthermore, one should emphasize that music leads to the healthy development of school-aged children. It is so because music listening makes such individuals relax and soothe, which, in turn, allows them to focus on learning. That is why Tervaniemi (2017) mentions that this intervention improves students’ phonological skills, working memory, attention, and others. It is so because music has versatile effects on the developing brain, promoting its growth.
The information above makes it impossible to overestimate the positive effects of music in the learning environment. That is why more and more educational establishments promote this activity, and there are even ready-for-use programs. According to Hospital, Morris, Wagner, and Wales (2018), the Miami Music Project is among them, and it focuses on positive youth development through music education. The program analyzes the students’ outcomes in five spheres, including character, connection, caring, competence, and confidence (Hospital et al., 2018). The authors claim that participation in the program has resulted in sufficient emotional and social enhancements among the involved students. It means that educators have numerous opportunities to introduce music and reckon on positive benefits. Possible options include implementing individual interventions by themselves or finding the existing program and benefiting from it. Both variants are allowed because advantages can be achieved with the help of any strategy.
Finally, it is reasonable to mention that music offers positive outcomes to diverse students. In particular, Rose, Bartoli, and Heaton (2018) indicate that music education is beneficial for children with special educational needs. The authors claim that learning a musical instrument can improve motor skills and fluid intelligence among students with an autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and others (Rose et al., 2018). This fact means that children with special educational needs require focused interventions, denoting that only making them listen to music is not practical. Possible outcomes can emerge if children are involved in playing and learning music.
Inefficiencies of Using Music in Learning
Even though the information above has presented numerous benefits, introducing music to learning does not always offer positive outcomes. Yen-Ning et al. (2017) mention that listening to Mozart while reading decreases students’ attention. It is so because background music provides pupils’ brains with the necessity to process additional information, which leads to their insufficient concentration. Simultaneously, Evangelista et al. (2017) also mention that “the presence or absence of classical background music does not affect stress, anxiety, and knowledge scores” (p. 1). The scientists have managed to obtain these results by focusing on baccalaureate nursing students. However, positive outcomes have also been identified because Evangelista et al. (2017) mention that music is a non-threatening stimulus. It denotes that musical activities help students improve their attention.
It is possible to suggest that some additional factors can determine whether music is beneficial or disadvantageous for learning. Yang, Chen, and Chen (2019) stipulate that the effect depends on pupils’ cognitive styles, including Holists and Serialists. Holists prefer broad tasks, while Serialists focus on details, meaning that they have different educational approaches (Yang et al., 2019). Thus, the findings demonstrate that Serialists might not prefer dealing with background music, while Holists report no effect of this educational intervention on their academic performance. This information demonstrates that it is reasonable to focus on students’ characteristic features when deciding whether to introduce music in learning and what intervention is the most suitable.
The identified findings have demonstrated that introducing music to learning leads to advantages and inefficiencies. One should separately emphasize that the latter term implies both adverse effects and the absence of any positive results. On the one hand, a few studies analyze the issue under consideration and arrive at such conclusions. These findings refer to students’ decreased attention, pupils’ self-reports regarding the inconvenience of learning with background music, and no improvements in the stress, anxiety, and knowledge score spheres. These data could allow supposing that it is challenging to rely on such interventions to improve academic performance.
On the other hand, the research field offers a considerable amount of literature that describes the benefits of uniting music and learning. Some of these advantages include improved intellectual performance and mathematical skills, higher reading rates, enhanced foreign language learning, and many others. Furthermore, it is reasonable to focus on the study by Yang et al. (2019) since they have demonstrated that the intervention effects depend on students’ features. That is why educators should invest their efforts in analyzing the existing literature to determine effective musical interventions and draw attention to whether these specific steps will be practical for their students.
The research paper has demonstrated that numerous educators can introduce music in their classrooms to motivate students to achieve better learning outcomes. Teachers can rely on background music, songs, musical activities, and other interventions. Sufficient scientific evidence indicates that this methodology implies significant advantages. They include children’s improved phonological skills, working memory, attention, reading rates, learning anxiety, and others. Furthermore, this approach is useful when it is necessary to impact children with special educational needs. Even though the phenomenon under consideration also implies some inefficiencies, it is impossible to mention that music does not deserve attention in learning. It is so because the methodology under review offers a higher number of positive outcomes that outweigh any drawbacks and limitations. That is why it is reasonable for educators to invest their time and efforts into introducing music into their classrooms.
Degrave, P. (2019). Music in the foreign language classroom: How and why? Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 10(3), 412-420.
Evangelista, K., Macabasag, R. L. A., Capili, B., Castro, T., Danque, M., Evangelista, H., … Cajayon, S. (2017). Effects of classical background music on stress, anxiety, and knowledge of Filipino baccalaureate nursing students. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 14(1), 1-8.
Holmes, S., & Hallam, S. (2017). The impact of participation in music on learning mathematics. London Review of Education, 15(3), 425-438.
Hospital, M. M., Morris, S. L., Wagner, E. F., & Wales, E. (2018). Music education as a path to positive youth development: An El Sistema-inspired program. Journal of Youth Development, 13(4), 149-163.
Rose, D., Bartoli, A. J., & Heaton, P. (2018). Learning a musical instrument can benefit a child with special educational needs. Psychomusicology, 28(2), 77-81.
Tervaniemi, M. (2017). Music in learning and relearning: The life-span approach. Psychomusicology, 27(3), 223-226.
Yang, T.-C., Chen, M. C., & Chen, S. Y. (2019). The effects of background music on game-based learning: A cognitive style approach. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 28(6), 495-508.
Yen-Ning, S., Kao, C.-C., Hsu, C.-C., Lu-Chun, P., Shu-Chen, C., & Yueh-Min, H. (2017). How does Mozart’s music affect children’s reading? The evidence from learning anxiety and reading rates with e-books. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 20(2), 101-112.