Fine Arts: Its Effects on a Student’s Brain

For quite a number of years, school systems in the U.S. abandoned classes in fine arts in favor of getting the students to pass the tests in reading and math. Now, interdisciplinary field researchers suggest that arts may be good for students’ learning. For instance, scientists are looking at whether students at an arts high school who study music or drawing have brains that allow them to focus more intensely or do better in the classroom.

Neuroscientists are trying to figure out how training students in the arts may change the way they think. Does integrating musical instrument in their regular class make them do math better? Does painting and dancing improve the student’s ability to read?
There are not many conclusions yet that have come into the classroom, but an interdisciplinary field is slowly forming between education and neuroscience.

Ellen Winner of Boston College conducted a four-year research on the effects of playing the piano or the violin on students in elementary school. Winner said she was skeptical upon hearing that schools offering fine arts had seen an increase in test scores and a generally better school atmosphere. She said she had examined the declarations and found out that they could not be proven by research.

What Winner was working on showed that children who have a small amount of musical training experience structural changes in their brains that can be measured. These students were better at artistry tests that required them to use their fingers.

Approximately 15 months after the study began, students who played the instrument did not get better at math or reading; however, the researchers are questioning whether their evaluations sensitive enough to determine the changes.

The study will still go on for several more years and if the results are good, then researchers may have finally found a way to improve the dropout rates in America.