Maybe you think of music only as a form of entertainment. Recent scientific studies and research prove that music can be much more valuable than just entertainment.
Princeton University's College Entrance Exam Board (2001) in a profile of SAT Program Test Takers found that students in music appreciation scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math than students with no arts participation. In a study by Phi Delta Kappa (1944) called ''The Case for Music in the Schools,'' a study of 7,500 university students revealed that music majors scored the highest reading scores among all majors including English, biology, chemistry and math. The study also found that music majors are the most likely group of college grads to be admitted to medical school.
In ''Neurological Research,'' March 15, 1999, it was reported that students who were exposed to music-based lessons scored a full 100 percent higher on fractions tests than those who learned in the conventional manner. Their research also found that a study of 237 second-grade children involved with both piano keyboard training and innovative math software scored 27 percent higher on proportional math and fractions tests than students only using the math software.
In 1999 Catterall, Chaplean and Iwanaga published in ''Involvement in the Arts and Human Development'' (1999) that the U. S. Department of Education data showed that students who report consistently higher levels of involvement in instrumental music during the middle and high school years show ''significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12.'' Catteral, et.al. also found that students of lower socioeconomic status gain as much or more from arts instruction than those of higher socioeconomic status.
It was reported by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IAEEA) Test in 1988 that the schools that produced the highest academic achievement in the United States are spending 20 percent to 30 percent of the day on arts, with special emphasis on music.
It is no wonder then that Dee Dickenson in ''Music and the Mind'' (1993) published that the foremost technical designers and engineers in Silicon Valley are almost all practicing musicians.
There is more. The U.S. Senate in H. Cor. Res. 266 (June 13, 2000) resolved that students who participate in school music have the lowest level of current and lifelong use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs among any group in our society.
Based on the evolving studies and experiments, Americans are beginning to appreciate the academic and character building that music has to offer in children of all ages.
This is reflected in a 2003 Gallup Poll on ''American Attitudes Toward Music'' in which 78 percent of Americans surveyed believe that teenagers who play an instrument are less likely to have disciplinary problems. Ninety-five percent of Americans in the 2003 Gallup Poll believe music is a key component in a child's well-rounded education; and three quarters of those surveyed feel that schools should mandate music education. The 2003 Gallup Poll also revealed that 54 percent of American households reported having at least one musical instrument player, the highest figure since the study began in 1978.
But wait, music is not just educational and entertaining. It is now being discovered that music is therapeutic. A Finnish study showed that stroke victims that had a stroke of the middle cerebral artery in the left or right side of the brain and listened to music every day or used audio books while others did not listen to music showed that those who listened to music showed a 60 percent improvement in verbal memory compared to 18 percent using only audio books. Music therapy is now being advocated by some in the medical field to help cure illnesses, diseases involving medical and mental disorders, as well as a help to alleviate pain and increase mental well-being.
Some educators and parents may want to rethink subject and time priorities for children and consider music as a necessity to sharpen children's brains; to increase verbal and cognitive skills; boost proficiency in test scores and curb delinquency.
Likewise, families and people in the medical field may want to aid patients' well-being in the use of music therapy for stroke victims, cerebral palsy, and Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Every year the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra sponsors a free concert for the city and county school children followed later by a family concert inviting children, parents, and educators to an evening of classical music with a large orchestra and full range of instruments. During intermission, children are invited to a ''petting zoo'' where they can mingle among 50 or more musicians and stroke an instrument that they think they would especially like or hear a musician demonstrate.
The Warren Philharmonic Orchestra will continue its mission to convince educators and parents to make music and art a prominent educational tool in the development of every child. It also will continue encouraging people in the community to attend concerts that can not only entertain but also contribute to their well-being.
The economic downturn has surely curtailed funds from patrons requiring cuts in musicians' salaries, and the elimination of one season concert. Yet, the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra's board and staff are determined to retain this fabulous orchestra as an educational, cultural and historic jewel in the Community.
Bodor is president of the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra.