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The GLEE Effect? More Americans Say Music Education Prepares People for Careers, Problem Solving

The GLEE Effect? More Americans Say Music Education Prepares People for Careers, Problem Solving

Maybe it was flute lessons. Or, perhaps, it was just a few years of singing in the high school chorus. For some, it could have been just playing with some friends in the garage. Whatever it might have been, three-quarters of Americans (76%) have had some sort of music education during school with half (49%) being in a chorus and more than two in five (43%) taking formal instrument lessons. Two in five Americans (39%) played in a school orchestra or band, while over one in ten played in an informal group, such as a garage band (14%) or took formal vocal lessons (13%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,286 adults surveyed online between May 14 and 19, 2014.

(To see the full results including data tables click here)

Those who were involved in a music program also stayed with it for at least a few years. Less than one in five (16%) continued with their music program for less than one year, while three in ten (30%) stayed with it for one to less than three years. But half (49%) stayed with it longer more than one in five (22%) were involved for 3 to 5 years, one in five (20%) for more than 5 years and almost one in ten (8%) are still involved. Those who took vocal lessons and played in an informal group are more likely to say they are still involved in a musical program (18% and 24% respectively).

The more time one spends in a music program, the more they are to say it has been influential in contributing to their current level of personal fulfillment. Among all those involved in a music program, over one-third (37%) say it was extremely or very influential with one-third (32%) saying it was somewhat influential. Among those who spent less than three years in a music program, one in five (20%) say it was extremely or very influential, but that rises to one-third (35%) for those involved for 3-5 years, jumps to three in five (59%) for those involved 5 or more years, and skyrockets to four in five (81%) of those still involved in music.

The skills music education can provide

Music education can provide more than just learning how to sing and/or play an instrument. It also has the ability to provide various skills that people may need for success in a job or career outside of music. In fact, over half of those involved in a music program say music education was extremely or very important in providing them with the skills of working towards common goals (54%) and striving for individual excellence in a group setting (52%), while half (49%) say it provided them with a disciplined approach to solving problems. Almost half of those involved in a music program say music provided them with the skills of creative problem solving (47%) and flexibility in a work situation (45%). What is interesting to note is that all of these are up since these questions were previously asked in 2007. Then, 44% said music education provided them with the skill of working toward common goals and just 36% say it provided them with flexibility in work situations.

Music education prepares people for life

Among all adults, there is also a sense that music education is important. Seven in ten Americans (71%) say that the learnings and habits from music education equip people to be better team players in their careers while two thirds say it provides people with a disciplined approach to solving problems (67%) and prepares someone to manage the tasks of their job more successfully (66%). In 2007, two-thirds (66%) said music education prepared people to be better team players, while three in five said it provided a disciplined problem solving approach (61%) and prepared people to manage tasks more successfully (59%).


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