Music May Help Close Achievement Gap: Study

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    A new study suggests music could help under-served children excel in school. Ian Cull reports. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014)

    A new study suggests music could help under-served children excel in school.

    Researchers at Northwestern University said turning under-served kids into musicians will help them process complex sounds as well as privileged students. The study also suggests kids learning how to play an instrument can lead to better language and reading skills.

    "The more sounds that the kids hear in a musical setting, the more advanced their brain becomes and the quicker they get at being able to distinguish," said Julie Rinard, San Jose Jazz Progressions director.

    The San Jose Jazz Progressions program brings music to at-risk students by providing instruments and instruction.

    Fifth-grader Ely Lopez participates in the after school program and has a new passion playing the trumpet. He picked up the instrument six months ago and practices every other day.

    "He's able to pick out the notes of the trumpet when he's listening to recordings," said Vincent Lopez, Ely's father.

    Lopez said that he has noticed changes in his son since he started playing the instrument, adding Ely has been able to take a subject and look at things more in-depth.

    "He's become a better person all the way around," Lopez said.

    Rinard said she is encouraged by the study and hopes it will bring funding back to schools who have cut music out of the curriculum.

    "Music has much broader benefits, it's not just a feel good kind of a thing," Rinard said. "There are academic, social, behavioral benefits."