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Poll: Music education is important

CARLSBAD, Calif., April 21 (UPI) -- A Gallup poll released Monday show 95 percent of Americans believe that music is a key component to any child's well-rounded education.

The poll showed that three-fourths believed that music education should be mandated for every student.

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The survey for NAMM, the International Music Products Association, has been taken every three years since 1978 to gauge public attitudes toward musical participation in the United States.

"We weren't surprised," said Laura Johnson, associate executive director of the American Music Conference, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the importance of music.

"The poll clearly shows that the American public thinks music education is important, something children ought to be able to get," she said.

Despite the poll, the association says budget cuts and shifting priorities have put music education in danger. As many as 28 million students do not receive music education, and cuts have either been enacted or are pending in half the states nationwide.

"In communities where people feel strongly, they find a way to get it into the schools, but budget cuts certainly make it more difficult," Johnson said.

There has been a decade of scientific research linking active participation in music with improved mental capacity in young children and the elderly.

A study published in Neurological Research in 1999 found that of 237 second-grade children who used piano keyboard training and newly designed math software scored 27 percent higher on proportional math and fractions tests than children who used only the math software.

The College Entrance Examination Board found that students in music appreciation scored 63 percent higher on verbal and 44 percent higher in math than students with no arts participation.

U.S. Department of Education data on more than 25,000 secondary school students found that students who report consistent high levels in instrumental music in middle and high school, show "significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12."

In a question asked by Gallup pollsters for the first time this year, 80 percent of those polled said making music makes students smarter.

The survey said 78 percent feel learning a musical instrument helps students perform better in other subjects, and that 88 percent believe participation in music helps teach children discipline.

This year, a record 54 percent of households report having at least one musical instrument player, the highest figure since the study began 25 years ago.

The survey covered a random sample of 1,005 telephone interviews.

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