Friday, October 22, 1999 Published at 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Music makes you clever
A 10-year study says music and drama raise academic performance
Learning a musical instrument or taking part in a school play can improve children's academic results, claims research published by the United States' education department.
The 10-year study, which tracked the progress of 25,000 young people, has found that participation in the arts is linked to increased performance in maths, literacy, history and geography.
There was also evidence that involvement in music and drama made pupils less likely to be racist, with the research suggesting that pupils who were not involved in the arts were more likely to tolerate racist remarks and attitudes.
The research, published on Friday, showed that while more children from wealthier backgrounds take part in the arts, the greatest impact in terms of improving academic performance appeared among children from lower income families.
Among the low-income students only 15.5% performed at a high level for maths - a figure that doubled among low-income students who were involved in learning music.
"It's not a matter of economic advantage. It's a matter of something happening with the arts for the kids," said Professor Catterall.
However the research noted that despite the benefits of taking part in school bands, plays and shows, the rate of participation reduced as pupils reached the older age groups.
The Education Secretary, Richard Riley, said the research demonstrated how "the arts powerfully nurture the ability to think" and that they would encourage "imaginative, flexible and tough-minded thinking".