Music Improves Academics More than Sports
Parents don’t want their kids watching TV or staring at their phones all day. Most of them encourage their kids to get involved in other activities. Either inside or outside of school.
Kids have all types of interest, but a lot of parents wonder if they should guide their kids towards certain extracurricular activities. Or at least try them out and see if they enjoy it.
When it comes to high school, there are two major activities that kids usually go for.
Music. And Sports.
Which is Better?
Let’s set the record straight from the start.
Research has shown both sports and music have benefits. However, those benefits are slightly different.
Music is associated with improved cognitive abilities. Sports with health and some academic achievement. And doing either of these extracurricular activities gives benefits to kids over those who do neither.
Before we get into the grudge match between music and sports, I want to highlight one big finding from a study recently published in Labour Economics. The researchers show that doing both activities has greater academic benefits for kids who do just one or the other.
In short, if your child shows interest in both types of activities, don’t worry that doing so will harm their academic success somehow. Being involved in both will actually help boost their performance.
The study also pitted the two directly against one another, something that’s never really been done before. So let’s see what they found.
Music vs. Sports
I won’t draw this out. When researchers compared the two activities against one another, it was music that came out on top. This effect was particularly strong for girls and kids of educated parents.
The authors write this:
“Playing music appears to foster academic performance and academic ambition compared to doing sports, in particular for girls and children from more highly educated families.”
There were also a few other benefits that came from music.
The scientists saw that those who took music also spent more time reading, and less time watching TV or playing computer games. Something they didn’t see for kids who participated in sports.
A few other differences between sports and music came out.
Students involved in sports did slightly better in math, while those in music performed better in languages.
Not surprisingly, kids who participated in sports had higher perceived health outcomes.
One final interesting note dealt with smoking. The authors write that being involved in both types of activities:
“reduces smoking by about 10 percentage points, compared to engaging in just one.”
In a society where sports are usually prioritized over music programs, music teachers everywhere might celebrate the findings of the study. I’m sure proponents of sports activities probably won’t be swayed so easily, though.
If there is anything that we can take away from the study, it should be that music isn’t just some soft extracurricular activity. Instead, it has solid benefits outside the music room that directly benefits performance inside the classroom.