Why Pakistan needs music education

Music education could bring opportunities to our children to engage in a global community

Dr Shehzad Jeeva June 17, 2022

Music plays a pivotal role as a catalyst for emotional and personal development. The pleasure of playing and listening to music is not a selective gift of privilege but a basic human desire capable of inspiring excellence and uniting an international community. Music, as such, can be seen as a guiding standard to regulate and illuminate all the activities of our existence. In other words, the essence of music is that all human beings, regardless of any ethnicity, nationality, or culture, are universally sensitive to music and, on some level and in some way, capable of making music. While by learning to play a musical instrument, students acquire knowledge of music scores from different cultures, they also become skilled in a language that is understood globally.

The ability to communicate and value people, in general, having vastly diverse cultural upbringings, is very critical to the global economy; which in reality is a difficult skill to teach. Music creates a medium for such an exciting exchange. Music students learn to read music notation and play musical instruments or sing and are skillful in understanding and comprehending to play music with other musicians without language boundaries. Music thus becomes an essential vehicle for peace and empathy. Education in music brings opportunities to the students to work with students globally. This will further enhance the capability of our youth to listen to other global communities and different cultures. Most importantly, music also becomes a way to learn and value their own culture and its history. This is essential for the reason that it can prevent the degeneration of the value of culture and history of a society.

Playing a musical instrument is based on knowledge; it is done as a result of a thought process. It is not possible to separate the action from the thought. It is a mode of active knowledge. Instead of expressing the knowledge verbally, the musician performs their knowledge. This knowledge is only available for performers and not for the listeners; therefore, performing music is such a challenge, which expands in all dimensions along with the individual’s learning to perform. Composing music is a spring of constructive knowledge and thus enjoyment and self-fulfillment because it offers progressive levels of challenge and ways of improving one’s know-how via music education.

Evidence suggests that music education is highly correlated with achievement in other academic areas in later financial success. Learning music requires discipline, from practice time to performance. In addition to the discipline required for learning music, a child develops good habits and keeps him or her away from unwanted activities. Moreover, the sheer joy of practicing music encourages students to excel in school. Scientific studies also link music education to brain development and suggests that an “enriched, iterative, skill-developing music curriculum” improves math scores and reading in early-aged children. Further research results published in peer-reviewed journals also exhibit that those children who were behind the group average caught up in reading and pulled ahead of their peers in math.

Additionally, sustained study of music is also beneficial to older children and young adults. It has been shown that music students had higher reading scores as compared to students belonging to other groups such as chemistry, biology, and mathematics. It may also seem surprising that music students do better than even English major students on a reading exam; the reason for this surprising result is that the process of studying music teaches students to carefully observe musical symbols and to interpret those symbols into meaning. Moreover, a survey in the United States evaluated the impact of music education on SAT scores. Math SAT scores improved by 41 points, and verbal scores improved by 57 points for students who benefit from music education (the SAT often acts as the gatekeeper to higher education).

Globally, it is believed that music education provides considerable advantages to society in a broader sense and nurtures the child. Music education should be introduced into our education system, considering the positive impact of music education on academic performance and brain development. Music could be the magic wand that may inspire students to excel in other parts of their life. Music education could create a strong platform for global citizenship using a universal language that has the power to inspire and unite. Music education could bring opportunities to our children to engage in a global community and should be considered a critical component of education.

Dr Shehzad Jeeva

The writer has a PhD from University of Cambridge, and is currently the Director of the Aga Khan University Examination Board. He is aslo an Associate Professor of Practice at the Faculty of Arts and Science, AKU. He was the Former Chairman of the Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC), Ministry of Federal Education and Training, Government of Pakistan.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


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