In many schools, music is an elective, or an afterthought. In classical education, music and all the arts are considered core curriculum, or essential aspects of human culture and flourishing that all children learn to enjoy and create.
In Houson, Memorial Lutheran School, a classical school, integrates music instruction beginning in preschool. Students may take lessons on stringed instruments as an elective beginning in first grade, but from preschool all children learn to sing classic children’s songs and hymns, and receive instruction in music history and theory. (Music theory is actually very practical: Knowing it means knowing how to read music.) Preschoolers also learn rhythm and explore different instruments.
By fifth grade, all students join instrumental band or orchestra. The school’s website cites the following study, which is just one of many that find the same:
Young Children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year, compared to children who do not receive musical training. Musically trained children performed better in a memory test that is correlated with general intelligence skills such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics, and IQ. — Dr. Laurel Trainor, Prof. of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavior at McMaster University, 2006
Stanford University research has found that musical training improves how the brain processes the spoken word, a finding that researchers say could lead to improving the reading ability of children who have dyslexia and other reading problems… ‘Especially for children … who aren’t good at rapid auditory processing and are high-risk for becoming poor readers, they may especially benefit from musical training.’ — From “Playing music can be good for your brain,” SF Chronicle, November 17, 2005
But music is far more important than its ability to increase children’s academic prowess. Music is a part of being human. And because children need to learn how to be human, they need music instruction. Watch this inspiring video from Memorial School to better understand why. What beautiful music these young children can make!