Music courses can have a profound impact on students, potentially helping them perform better in other subjects. A recent study from the American Psychological Association found that high school students who take music courses score significantly better on exams in subjects like math and science than their nonmusical peers.
The improved academic performance was more pronounced among students who learned to play an instrument rather than vocal music. The researchers behind the study examined the records of more than 112,000 students in British Columbia. Among the students whose records were studied, 13 percent had participated in at least one music course in grade 10, 11 or 12. Researchers discovered that, on average, children who learned to play a musical instrument for many years and ultimately played in a high school band or orchestra were the equivalent of roughly one academic year ahead of their peers in regard to their English, mathematics and science skills.