February 11, 2009

Music helps teens improve in math, reading

Music lessons and parents attending concerts with children is positively linked with academic achievement, especially in high school, U.S. researchers say.

Darby E. Southgate and Vincent Roscigno, both of Ohio State University, reviewed two nationally representative data sources to analyze patterns of music involvement and their possible effects on math and reading performance among elementary and high school students.

However, not all adolescents participate in music equally, and certain groups are disadvantaged in access to music education, the researchers say.

Wealthier families participate more in music than do poorer families, while Asians and whites are more likely to participate in music than are Hispanics. Young black children attended concerts with their parents, but were less likely to take music lessons.

This topic becomes an issue of equity at both the family and school levels, the study authors said in a statement. This has major policy implications for federal, state and local agencies, as well as knowledge that can help families allocate resources that are most beneficial to children.

The findings are reported in the March issue of Social Science Quarterly.