Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

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.

[ image: Richard Riley says the arts encourage
Richard Riley says the arts encourage "imaginative" thinking
The study, carried out by James S Catterall, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, showed that the link between the arts and improved ability was consistent regardless of parental income or other external factors.

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".

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Education Contents

Hot Topics
UK Systems
League Tables

Relevant Stories

15 Mar 99 | Education
Learning maths through music

04 Feb 99 | Education
Music in schools fading away for the poor

27 Jan 99 | Education
Reversing the school music decline

27 Jan 99 | Education
Banging the drum for music in schools

Internet Links

United States Education Department

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

'Golden hellos' fail to attract new teachers

Children join online Parliament

Pupils 'too ignorant to vote'

Red tape toolkit 'not enough'

Poor report for teacher training consortium

Specialist schools' results triumph

Ex-headmaster guilty of more sex charges

Blunkett welcomes Dyke's education commitment

Web funding for specialist teachers

Local authorities call for Woodhead's sacking

Dyslexic pensioner wins PhD

Armed forces children need school help

Black pupils 'need better-trained teachers'

College 'is not cool'