Heightening the connection of music education in schools
The magic behind music education. Source: Shutterstock

From improved reading skills to securing successful communication skills and a passion for creativity, music education opens up a multitude of academic avenues for young learners.

Tied to a range of non-academic benefits, 21st century music education has also shown signs of increased student focus and connectivity to lessons.

Demonstrated by a recent four-year research project by national music charity Youth Music and Birmingham City University, Exchanging Notes deep dives into the advantages of integrating modern music education into lessons.

A four-year longitudinal research study, the project analysed the impact of bringing music genres such as grime and hip-hop into the classroom and integrating music industry professionals and local music-making projects.

By upgrading the curriculum from traditional genres and a steady fixation on classical artists, the study encouraged teachers, music leaders and young musicians to deconstruct their musical and educational identities, to break out of old habits and to have the freedom to think differently and to consider new possibilities.

Key findings of the study

    • Young people at risk of exclusion at the outset of the programme maintained higher levels of attendance (over 95 percent) throughout the project.
    • Exchanging Notes helped to open the door for learning. Music was used as an engagement hook, and the strong social connections that were developed helped to re-engage young people in education, develop their confidence and self-belief and create a more positive attitude to learning.
    • Two-thirds of the young musicians maintained or improved their attainment in English across the four years of Exchanging Notes and three-quarters of young musicians maintained or improved their attainment in Maths.
    • Exchanging Notes led to emotional, psychological and social well-being outcomes. The social outcomes were particularly marked – joining in with peers, making friends, developing teamwork and empathy.

“One of the significant findings from the Exchanging Notes projects is that schools gain from working with community and industry-based partners and the children and young musicians involved benefit from joined-up provision that makes a difference not only to their music making and music creating, but significantly to the development of them as people and as useful and contributing members of society,” the study concludes.

Therefore, to combat student exclusion and to promote student inclusivity, modern music education must be up-to-date, relevant and relatable in order to involve all generations.

Even if that means altering the curriculum, switching up the modules and endorsing today’s music to better a students’ education, it’s a step in the right direction and an excellent way for students to begin synthesising with their studies.

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