The effects of music education on academic achievement

Timothy William Schneider


The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between enrollment in music performance classes and athletic extracurricular activities on academic achievement as measured by standardized tests. In addition, the length of time one participated was considered to determine its effect. The ultimate goal of this study was to provide educators with information about the academic effects of long term participation in athletics and music. The subjects of this study were performing music (band and choir), athletes, and students who were nonparticipants in either music or athletics enrolled in a large suburban/rural school district in the southeastern United States. All data were collected from the core battery reading, language, and mathematics scores of the California Achievement Test from 1991-1995. A multiple analysis of variance was employed to test for significant relationships between the dependent variables of reading, language, and mathematics and the independent variables of musician, athlete, and nonmusician/nonathlete for each year of the study. Pairwise comparisons were accomplished using Tukey's HSD post hoc tests. It was found that all groups were statistically equivalent in 1991 (5 th grade) and 1992 (6th grade). In 1993 (7th grade), 1994 (8th grade), and 1995 (9th grade), the musician group achieved significantly higher mathematics and language scores than the athlete group. In 1995 (9th grade), the musician group achieved significantly higher reading scores than the athletes. The musician group did not achieve significantly higher scores than the nomnusicians/nonathletes and there was no significant change in scores over the five years of the study. By 1995 (9 th grade), the musician group showed stabilized scores while the athletes and nonmusicians/nonathletes groups showed lower scores. Based on the findings of this study it was concluded that students enrolled in music classes had higher scores in reading, language, and mathematics than their athletic peers. Although there were no significant changes over time, the musician group showed a possible tendency to maintain stabilized scores while the athletes and nonmusicians/nonathletes groups' scores dropped.