Berklee College of Music

Jenny Silverstone: Six big benefits of music education

     A teacher   helps a young pupil conduct an ''orchestra'' during a music lesson at St Joseph's Elementary School, in Upper Norwood, England., in 1943. The boy is using drumsticks or xylophone beaters to conduct the rest of the class, who are playing tambourines, triangles and cymbals .


 A teacher   helps a young pupil conduct an ''orchestra'' during a music lesson at St Joseph's Elementary School, in Upper Norwood, England., in 1943. The boy is using drumsticks or xylophone beaters to conduct the rest of the class, who are playing tambourines, triangles and cymbals.

Via the New England Board of Higher Education (

Today, children of all ages experience rigorous career preparation as part of their education. School systems strive to implement mandated standards to help students excel in standardized testing and gain necessary skills for future job opportunities.

In this worthwhile pursuit, many creative school programs such as art and music are deemed unnecessary and cut from the curriculum.

What many schools do not realize, however, is that programs such as music education can have major positive impacts on growth and development.

In fact, these six benefits of music education not only show how music can benefit children now, but how it goes hand-in-hand with their preparation for future endeavors.

Enhanced language capabilities

Would you like your child to have larger vocabulary and enhanced reading comprehension skills? Studies show consistent music education improves both areas. How does it work?

Emerging evidence suggests the area of the brain controlling both musical ability and language comprehension are more related than previously thought. Music education requires students to recognize and repeat pitch, tone or enunciation of words.

Especially in young children, music directly benefits the ability to learn words, speak them correctly, and process the many new sounds they hear from others.

Improved memory

Music education involves a high level of memorization. Students must be able to read music by sight, play the proper notes on their instrument or recall lyrics. This process benefits the overall memory center of the brain.

In one study, musicians outperformed non-musicians in auditory, visual, and memory tests.

Music is also easily stored in our memory. Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? You can use music to help children remember things. Examples include using common tunes to memorize facts, playing meditative music during study time, and using music resources when presenting materials.

Strengthened hand-eye coordination

Playing a musical instrument has long been known to enhance dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

When playing an instrument, a musician must be able to create the correct notes through the proper hand motions, whether it be hitting keys, closing valves or using another apparatus to produce sound. In addition, the musician is also required to read the sheet music and follow the conductor.

This opportunity to grow motor skills is especially significant in younger children. Even a basic introduction to an instrument, such as a hitting a triangle or learning a song on a recorder, can be beneficial.

Powerful study habits

As children grow and are exposed to more rigorous courses of study, time spent reviewing and retaining is essential to success. More and more time in the classroom is spent on introducing new subjects and ideas, requiring students to work at home to ensure they have grasped onto the necessary information.

When children are exposed to proper music education, they learn powerful study habits. Mastering their specific musical craft takes a concerted effort, consistent practice and patience. These disciplined habits translate into other areas of study.


Music is often thought of as a way to foster individual expression. While it definitely is that, music can also teach teamwork. No place is this more evident or powerful than in schools.

Students work together to create a cohesive, technically correct performance. Together, they form a community of like-minded individuals who can help each other reach goals. Many students find a sense of belonging in school music programs.

Mental processing & problem-solving heightened

In the end, one of the most useful benefits of music education is the increased ability to process situations and find solutions mentally. Those with musical training have been found to have higher levels of grey matter volume in their brains, which are directly tied to auditory processing and comprehension.

Surprisingly, one of the areas of life this is most important for is forming relationships. Musicians learn to listen to others, sense emotion,and react with greater depth and understanding.

Music education for kids

Music education is an important aspect of providing children with a well-rounded education. When allowed to work in harmony with other subjects and areas of study, music helps children grow in self-esteem, build essential skills and prepare for bright futures.

Jenny Silverstone is the primary author of Mom Loves Best, a research-driven parenting blog that covers important topics such as education, child safety and healthy childhood development milestones.

Berklee College of Music,  in Boston. It's the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. 

Berklee College of Music,  in Boston. It's the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. 




Charles Pinning: Gardner heist was a lark

stormy  "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee,'' by , one of the works stolen from the Gardner Museum 25 years ago.

Twenty-five years ago, in the wee hours after St. Patrick’s Day 1990, thirteen works of art valued at $500 million were stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It stands as the biggest art theft in history, and it remains unsolved.

Among the pieces stolen were three Rembrandts, including his only known seascape, “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” and Vermeer’s, “The Concert,” and there only 34 Vermeers known to exist.

My immediate thought was: Who would steal art so famous it couldn’t be sold?

Professional art thieves would not waste precious time popping a relatively worthless eagle finial off the top of a flag pole, as they did in the Gardner theft, nor would they pinch a bronze, Shang Dynasty drinking beaker (a Ku), regardless of its value; not when their obvious prizes were the Rembrandts and Vermeer, a Manet and a handful of Degas.

Year after year, I listened as the “experts” rolled out their conventional theories of the crooks having Boston underworld connections, be it Whitey Bulger or any of an assortment of local thugs.


There is a 600 year old problem-solving principle that has often been employed in science and forensics called Occam’s Razor, and it is extremely applicable in this case: among competing hypotheses the one with the fewest assumptions should be preferred.

The simplest, cleanest theory of this robbery eliminates thugs who wouldn’t be familiar with a precious out-of-the-way museum like the Gardner, who wouldn’t know Manet from mayonnaise. Nor were they sophisticated professionals who would operate swiftly, not spend an hour and twenty-one minutes dancing around a museum in the middle of the night. My theory has the least amount of assumptions, and it begins right across the street from the Gardner at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Students from the Museum School, as it’s popularly known, are in and out of the Gardner all the time, studying the art, drawing it.

The guards on the night of the theft were two: a 23-year-old music student at Berklee College of Music and a 25-year-old local musician. The Gardner, the SMFA and Berklee are all within a 10-minute walk of each, two minutes by car.

Is it not possible, if not probable, that art students hanging around a museum and musician-guards would get to know each other, at the museum itself or at clubs and parties?

Weeks prior to the theft, the guards had entertained friends in the museum at night, hanging out drinking, strolling the galleries….

In my view, the theft was committed by students, perhaps in league with former or then-present guards. The theft was a lark, pulled off for the thrill of it.

The big problem: what to do with the art once it was in their possession. My imagination was fired up. In 2006, I set about writing a fictional version of the heist, using all the known facts and cast of characters.

In the spring of 2013, the FBI held a press conference, claiming that they knew who stole the art, they just didn’t know where it was. If the Feds knew who stole the art, why not name them? It could only hasten its recovery. To me, they were obviously bluffing, hoping to flush out someone who had knowledge of the art.

My novel about the heist, Irreplaceable, came out in the summer of 2013. I alerted the staff of the Gardner Museum via email, figuring that they would have a natural interest in the story. The Gardner’s Director of Security, Anthony Amore, replied hot and swift:

“…the claim that the FBI is bluffing is ridiculous and irresponsible. I will not be purchasing it [your book].”

Were she alive today, I believe that the flamboyant, rapacious Isabella Stuart Gardner would pursue the recovery of her art with as much tenacity and imagination as she’d brought to its acquiring. She certainly wouldn’t have tolerated 25 years of theories that have produced nothing.

Inscribed above the museum’s original entrance is her motto: “C’est mon plaisir.” This was a woman who well-understood doing something for the fun of it, and because she could.

Charles Pinning is a Providence-based writer.