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10 Ways Music Can Support Academic Excellence: Developed by a Board-Certified Music Therapist

One of the most common misconceptions we encounter among our prospective clients or people in our community is that music is only useful from a playful perspective. It enables us to sing and dance and have a good time, but does it really have the potential to make a tangible impact on our capabilities as people? Can music actually contribute towards healthier mindsets, a sharper ability to focus, an increased ability to think creatively, or a confident approach to problem-solving? I can’t wait to tell you just how much it can.

My name is Ana, and I’m one of the founders and co-operators of The House of Music Therapy. After graduating with my Bachelor’s of Music in Music Therapy, I went on to complete my Master’s with an emphasis on Neurologic Music Therapy. My journey through these accomplishments helped me to gain a comprehensive understanding of music and the impact it has on the brain, and through studying the underlying neuroscience behind the phenomena that are music therapy, I became an expert in my field.

Now, our team and I are able to serve clients locally (in South Florida) and virtually (across the globe) through a variety of programs and resources. Throughout the process, we’ve been able to share the power of music therapy with others, opening their eyes to the wide variety of benefits that music brings. When it comes to academic excellence, music can be a powerful tool and resource for getting - and staying - ahead. Here’s how:

1. Enhancement of Memory and Recall: Music, especially when paired with mnemonic devices, can facilitate the retention and recall of information.

Have you tried listening to music while studying or focusing? Studies show it can help you strengthen your memory and increase the quality of your recall.

2. Stress Reduction: Listening to calming music can reduce stress and anxiety.

Next time you find yourself struggling to regulate, relax, or calm down, try leaning into your favorite playlist or a classical album to help bring your stress levels back down. Studies show that this can be especially helpful ahead of stressful events (like doctor's appointments, the first day of school, or loud events).

3. Improved Concentration: Background music can help students stay focused during study sessions.

For those prone to distractions, or attempting to minimize disruptions during study time, background music has been shown to help increase focus and enable longer periods of study time. Several of our teenage clients have leveraged this practice to get more done!

4. Emotional Expression and Processing: Engaging in music-making can provide an outlet for emotional expression.

Humans need outlets for emotional expression, self-expression, and in order to process difficult or confusing feelings. We leverage music as an outlet for these things every day, enabling clients and students to work through their emotions in a healthy, calm way. Studies have uncovered several theories and methods for leveraging music to help facilitate processing.

5. Enhanced Reading Comprehension and Concentration through Rhythmic and Melodic Structures.

Diving into a song with profound lyrics can lead to an unexpected clarity in one's thoughts. It's not merely anecdotal; clinical studies suggest that lyrical music has a tangible effect on enhancing our reading comprehension skills. Engaging with such tunes may pave the way for a better grasp of narratives, discernment of underlying themes, or even a deeper connection with written content.

6. Enhanced Group Cohesion: Group music activities can promote social cohesion and teamwork.

Some of our most productive music therapy sessions are those that happen in a group. By leveraging music to stimulate social collaboration and increase comfort for everyone in the room, we see increased connection for all. You may hear about some of your children’s teachers leveraging music in the classroom, and there are studies to back up the benefits of this practice.

7. Improved Motor Skills and Coordination: Playing a musical instrument enhances fine motor skills.

Many parents report marked improvements in their child’s behavior following their introduction to instruments or vocal classes in school. In fact, studies show that playing an instrument can impact a child’s reasoning skills, improve auditory discrimination, strengthen their vocabulary, and improve fine motor skills, too.

8. Motivation and Reward: Music can serve as a motivational tool.

Earlier, we mentioned the fun and playfulness of music. As it turns out, this can be a significant motivator for many school-aged kids. Using music as a reward, studies show that parents and teachers are able to encourage healthy habits, extended focus, or increased determination among students.

9. Enhancing Creativity: Composing or improvising music fosters creativity.

We often encourage our students and clients to join us in improvising and creating their own elements of a song (or an entire song), and there are studies to suggest the benefits of this. Through this practice, we find that they’re able to expand their creative thinking skills and feel more comfortable in a state of play while embracing self-expression.

10. Strengthening Auditory Processing: Music therapy can help improve auditory processing skills.

Studies show that by engaging in music therapy practices or programs, students see improvements in their auditory processing skills, meaning they might benefit from faster auditory response times, speech processing, and sharper senses across the board. According to this study, music therapy can especially help sharpen language skills.

We’ve always been advocates for the power of music and music therapy, especially when it comes to school-aged children and developmentally-rich years. For anyone struggling in school or looking for more tools to help them thrive, we recommend cozying up to music in one (or several) of the ways we’ve listed above. In doing so, we’re willing to bet that the benefits reveal themselves almost immediately.

For more information on The House of Music Therapy and our programs, offerings, or clientele, click here!

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