The Suzuki Violin Method often claims it can improve memory, attention span, and cognitive development generally; leading to improved academic performance. It also claims to enhance creativity, self-discipline, and perseverance. It is important to note, however, that while these claims are often made, the research on the specific benefits of the Suzuki method is still limited. Additionally, the benefits of music education may vary depending on individual factors such as the child’s age, learning style, and level of commitment (Scott, 1992).
A study by Gouzouasis et al. (2007) found a consistent pattern over three years that showed strong and significant connections between participation in music and academic achievement. Interestingly, the study found a greater correlation between music participation and math and biology achievements than between music participation and English. These findings support previous research that links music-related skills with mathematical abilities and intellectual capacities in general. The study suggests that music participation can benefit students in ways that enhance their academic achievement, particularly in math and biology. While the study doesn’t make causal claims, it offers a plausible explanation for the relationship between achievement in music courses and academic success. The study also demonstrates that the relationship is specific to music, and not applicable to all fine arts. This suggests that non-music fine arts education may tap into different domains of our capacity, similar to Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory (Gouzouasis et al., 2007).
Hallam (2010) provides a strong case for the benefits of active engagement with music throughout the lifespan. In early childhood there seems to be benefits for development of perceptual skills which affect language learning and subsequently impact on literacy. Opportunities to coordinate rhythmically and improve fine motor skill are presented by learning to play an instrument. Music also seems to improve spatial reasoning, one aspect of general intelligence which is related to some of the skills required in mathematics (Hallam, 2010).
Motivation and endurance for problem solving depends on self-esteem, self-efficacy and aspirations. Engagement with music can enhance self-perceptions, but only if it provides positive learning experiences which are rewarding. This means that overall, the individual needs to experience success. This is not to say that there will never be setbacks but they must be balanced by future aspirations which seem achievable and self-belief in attaining them (Hallam, 2010).
In a study by Bolduc et al. (2021), music training in kindergarten improved the development of inhibition control compared to motor training and no special training groups. Additionally, although both the music and motor programmes targeted the development of phonological processing, children in the music programme scored higher on this ability (Bolduc et al., 2021).
Music and the arts should be valued for their intrinsic beauty and power. The fact that there is empirical evidence to support the benefits of music involvement for general academic achievement and desirable social and motivational personality characteristics is just icing on the cake.
Bolduc, J., Gosselin, N., Chevrette, T., & Peretz, I. (2021). The impact of music training on inhibition control, phonological processing, and motor skills in kindergarteners: a randomized control trial. Early Child Development and Care, 191(12), 1886–1895. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2020.1781841
Hallam S. (2010). The power of music: Its impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people. International Journal of Music Education, 28(3), 269–289. https://doi.org/10.1177/0255761410370658
Gouzouasis, P., Guhn, M., & Kishor, N. (2007). The predictive relationship between achievement and participation in music and achievement in core Grade 12 academic subjects. Music Education Research, 9(1), 81–92. https://doi.org/10.1080/14613800601127569
Scott L. (1992). Attention and Perseverance Behaviors of Preschool Children Enrolled in Suzuki Violin Lessons and Other Activities. Journal of Research in Music Education, 40(3), 225–235. https://doi.org/10.2307/3345684