How Can Music Improve Your Child's SAT Score?

by Len Insalaca
You may have heard that playing a musical instrument is good for your brain, makes you smarter, or has long-lasting benefits. You may have also heard that students who study music do better academically than those who do not. Years of research, and multiple studies, confirm that these statements are absolutely valid. Published research, proving the many benefits of music education, can be found in abundance on the internet and in numerous professional and medical journals.
According to a five-year study in Texas, students who studied music scored an average of 158.4 points higher on the SAT than non-music students. Another study showed that All-State level students, most of whom study privately, scored between 319 and 431 points higher than the national average on the same test over a nine-year period. It is not surprising then, that most colleges and universities look very favorably at four-year participation in high school band or orchestra when admitting incoming freshman.

A study from Boston Children’s Hospital found a correlation between musical training and improved executive function in both children and adults. Previous studies have identified a link between musical training and cognitive abilities, but few have looked specifically at the effects of early musical training on executive function. Executive functions (EF) are described as high-level cognitive processes that enable people to quickly process and retain information, regulate their behaviors, make good choices, solve problems, plan and adjust to changing mental demands. Another component of EF is having cognitive flexibility, as represented by the ability to adjust to novel or changing tasks on demand. (Bergland, June 25, 2014)

Research has also indicated that learning a musical instrument may help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In short, music and cognition are linked. Creating music requires complex neural activity which acts as a buffer against cognitive decline. It has been suggested that Alzheimer’s disease exists to a lesser degree among musicians (specifically orchestral musicians) than among non-musicians.

These are just some of the benefits of studying music:
  • Improved Math, Reading, and Comprehension Skills
  • Higher Standardized Test Scores
  • Competitive Edge for College Acceptances
  • Enhanced Coordination and Fine Motor Skills
  • Increased Memory Capacity
  • Development of Enhanced Critical Thinking Skills
  • Improves Mood and Reduces Stress and Depression
  • Increases Creativity and Productivity
  • Better Brain Development
  • Music Increases Our Connections to Others, Makes Us Happier, and Improves Our Quality of Life

Watch this terrific video that shows how playing an instrument benefits your brain.

How Music Affects the Brain - Deane Alban
Does Playing a Musical Instrument Make You Smarter? Neuroscientists identify a link between musical training and executive function - Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today.

Len Insalaca is the Director of Bands at Pinecrest Academy, where he oversees the entire band program, and conducts the Middle School Symphonic Winds and the High School Wind Symphony . Besides being a music educator, he is also an active composer. His symphonic compositions are published by KnightWind Music. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree from the University of Florida, and the Master of Music Education degree from the Florida State University. Len can be reached at linsalaca@pinecrestacademy.org.

The Pinecrest Academy Band Awards and Accolades:
  • Performed at New York Heritage Music Festival - Straight Superior Ratings, 1st Place - 2011
  • Performed at the National Band and Orchestra Festival at Carnegie Hall, New York City - 2012 (not rated)
  • Performed at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center -2013 (not rated)
  • Performed at the Worldstrides Festival of Gold at Orchestra Hall, Chicago, IL - 2014 (not rated)
  • Performed at Worldstrides OnStage! Music Festival in Williamsburg, VA - Straight Superior Ratings, 2nd place overall - 2016
  • Performed at Worldstrides OnStage! Music Festival at Universal Studios - Straight Superior Ratings, 1st Place - 2017
  • Performance scheduled for the US Bands National Concert Band Festival - Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA - 2018 (not rated)
  • Numerous Invitations to perform at prestigious music festivals throughout the world
Pinecrest Academy is a private, Pre-K through 12, college preparatory Catholic school, located in South Forsyth, just minutes from Alpharetta, Milton, Johns Creek, Duluth and Suwanee. We provide an atmosphere of academic rigor and critical thinking, while offering personalized attention in a Christ-centered environment of faith and reason.
Pinecrest Academy is a private PreK-12 Catholic school located in Cumming, South Forsyth, just minutes from Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Suwanee. We serve families of all faiths seeking a Christian education for their children. To learn more about our unique educational philosophy, visit our Welcome page.

The mission of Pinecrest Academy is reflected in the word Integer, which is Latin for “whole,” or “entire,” and reflects our goal of forming the whole child as an authentic “Person in Christ.” The school motto Semper Altius, means “Always Higher,” and challenges our students, parents, staff and faculty to strive for excellence in all areas of Integral Formation® - intellectual, spiritual, human and apostolic.