Skip to main content

SFCM and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation Announce the Publication of a Groundbreaking White Paper on the Extraordinary Impact of Music Education on Child Development

Latest SFCM News

January 15, 2021 by Tim Records

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA)—The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation have partnered to provide the opportunity for Dr. Indre Viskontas—an opera singer, neuroscientist, and professor—to publish her white paper demonstrating the measurable benefit that music has on children and child brain development.

Viskontas’ work aggregates previous research to codify and clarify the specific benefits music education has on developing minds. The research points to results that demonstrate improvement in daily skills, such as planning, multitasking, and following instructions, as well as invisible results, such as building stronger neuroplasticity in the brain. In addition, Viskontas notes that there is a quantifiably significant incentive for children at risk for dropping out to remain in school. In fact, she specifically cites data that demonstrates that music has a greater benefit for children who are in higher risk populations.
Viskontas makes the case for music education in multiple ways, from scientific to academic and practical to financial, pointing out that the benefits of being involved in music making are cumulative, and extend far beyond childhood through adolescence and teenage years. She says, “The biggest benefit comes in the most at risk student populations. Even if you didn't have these direct neurological benefits, we also see that it brings students to schools. Students at risk of absenteeism are more likely to attend classes. This is why we think it should be a part of the public school curriculum.”

“The Getty Foundation believes that it is essential that every child have access to music education,” said Lisa Delan, director of the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation. “Not tomorrow. Today. The empirical evidence irrefutably illustrates the role that early exposure to music plays in myriad aspects of brain development.”

“This paper should be required reading for every state legislature and school board in the country,” said SFCM president David Stull. “It is a remarkable amalgamation of research that demonstrates through data, not intuition, that music programs dramatically accelerate and expand student achievement while cultivating the essential life skills necessary for success and well-being in the 21st century. It is now an economic truth that an investment in music education will pay countless dividends to communities wise enough to pursue these initiatives.”

The white paper “Music for Every Child” is available here.

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following individuals, whose work and conversations at its 2018 Symposium created the foundation of this document: Katherine Damkohler, Lisa Delan, Robert Duke, Judy Evans, Gordon Getty, Assal Habibi, Lee Koonce, Anna Potengowski, Kathy Schick, Robert Slevc, Dalouge Smith, Nicholas Toth, Rhys Williams and Michael Winger. Additional edits and helpful comments were provided by Dr. Nina Kraus and Heidi Moss Erickson. SFCM is particularly grateful to the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for its generous support of the report.

About Dr. Indre Viskontas