When discussing school subjects and programs, the fine arts usually isn't thought of in the same way as the core subjects or athletic programs. Whether this is because of a perception that it's not as important, or the belief that it's just a hobby, there are many that believe the fine arts don't provide the same benefits that something like a math class might.
However, Holy Cross Collegiate's Music Director Sarah Haughey explained music and the arts offers way more than you might expect. Beyond the well-known benefits of improving mental health and encouraging students to explore their passions, Haughey explained music can literally improve your brain, according to a book she read called "This is Your Brain on Music".
"Reading music requires you to focus on multiple things at the same time. Because the brain can't actually multitask, it's flipping back and forth from one thing to another. It actually strengthens the neural pathways in your brain, which is great for kids' brain development because it helps them get quicker in all subjects, it strengthens your mind," she explained.
Strengthening neural pathways benefits you in just about every activity in both your professional and personal life, but music's mental benefits go beyond that. Haughey added music teaches students the mentality needed to persevere and perform in front of people in high pressure situations.
"Getting up on stage and performing in front of an audience is a really good skill. One day you might have to do presentations at work. You might be a lawyer and have to get up in front of a whole bunch of people."
There are several physical benefits to music as well, mainly revolving around hand eye coordination and dexterity. With instruments like piano, guitar, flute, and many more, you are continually becoming more adept with your fingers, while an instrument like the drums can improve your entire body's coordination, as you use both arms and sometimes both legs and feet as well.
"Something even as simple as drumming and alternating your hands really helps with coordination. Moving your fingers on something like a recorder, a ukulele, clarinet, anything that has a lot of buttons and just helps with your dexterity and fine motor skills."
The skills gained through music and the arts are skills that can have a huge impact on other subjects and aspects of your life, even if it may not be immediately apparent. Because of all the incredible benefits the fine arts can give you, Haughey hopes to see fine arts programs supported more in schools. While some may think fine arts programs takes away from "real" learning like the core subjects, Haughey explained there is a direct correlation between engaging with the fine arts and better results in other classes.
"Studies have shown that kids who participate in fine arts do better overall in life and in school, so I just really encourage people to sign their kids up for fine arts if they can, or make sure their school has a program, it really is an important thing to do."
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