All posts by Chris Burcin

Classroom Music Teacher. Choral Conductor. Bass Voice Soloist. Web Designer

Why Study Music?

Below is a list of older research that supports reasons to study music. It is my intention to keep more up to date with the latest research, so this may serve as an archive.


Music has a power of forming the character and should therefore be introduced into the education of the young.

Research shows that music students achieve better results in other academic subjects and are happier, healthier and enjoy more success in their chosen careers.


  • High school music students score higher on *SATs in both verbal and math than their peers. (*standardised test for university entrance in the U.S.)
  • University-age musicians are emotionally healthier than their non-musician counterparts.
  • A ten-year study, tracking more than 25,000 students, shows that music-making improves test scores.
  • Piano students are better equipped to comprehend mathematical and scientific concepts.
  • Music majors are the most likely group of university graduates to be admitted to medical school.
  • The world’s top academic countries place a high value on music education. Hungary, Netherlands and Japan stand atop worldwide science achievement and have strong commitment to music education.

Read more about each of these points (and their sources) at the NAMM Foundation

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything… Without music, life would be an error.

Read the article from the NY TimesIs Music the Key to Success?

High achievers like Alan Greenspan (former chair of the US Federal Reserve), Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) and Woody Allen (film director) say music sharpens essential skills like collaboration, creativity, discipline and the capacity to reconcile conflicting ideas; all qualities notably absent from public life… Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?

Music lessons pay off in higher earningsRead the article from the NZ Herald

According to a 2007 survey, music students (especially singers) are well-placed to be financially successful in life. “88 per cent of people with a post-graduate education were involved in music while in school, and 83 per cent of people earning US$150,000 ($198,390) or more had a music education” . . . read more . . . >

Want smarter students? Enrol them in music lessons

“… Extensive overseas and local research suggests that children who learn a musical instrument, even for a relatively short period of time, show significant increases in intelligence & reasoning abilities, develop perseverence and flexibility of thought, are more sociable and better at working in teams, and even do better at maths . . .” . . . Listen to the Radio NZ podcast . . . >

Download Australia’s Music Education “Lobby Kit”

A guide for parents, teachers, principals and community members who are passionate about ensuring that music education is included in their school program, and need to act as advocates to build or develop programs in their area.

Music is a wonderful skill for any child, but new research shows how learning music can help your child in so many more ways:

  • Improved reasoning capacity and problem solving skills
  • Improve maths and language performance
  • Better memory
  • Greater social and team skills

For even more, visit The Benefits of Music Education at Music Education Online


Northwestern University scientists have pulled together a review of research into what music — specifically, learning to play music — does to humans. The result shows music training does far more than allow us to entertain ourselves and others by playing an instrument or singing. Instead, it actually changes our brains. . . read more . . . >

We need people who think with the creative side of their brains—people who have played in a band, who have painted…it enhances symbiotic thinking capabilities, not always thinking in the same paradigm, learning how to kick-start a new idea, or how to get a job done better, less expensively.
–—Annette Byrd, GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceuticals


As we move from the Industrial Age to the Information Age we need to prepare our students differently. Employers will increasing expect them to be flexible, innovative and most of all creative.

“Creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”
—-Sir Ken Robinson

Obama research calls for creativity to be put at heart of curriculum

In a foreword to the 18-month study, US education secretary Arne Duncan said the arts were “essential” to a complete education and claimed they led to better results in other subjects. (June 2011)

einstein violin
Imagination is more important than knowledge
—- Albert Einstein


In November 2011 the UK announced a National Plan for music education. The report was titled “The importance of Music” and outlines the essential role that music education plays in every child’s life:

“This National Plan is clear about the importance of music: it will ensure not just that more children have access to the greatest of art forms, but that they do better as a result in every other subject.”

UK Education Secretary Michael Gove announces review of music education

“Research shows that quality music education improves behaviour, attention and concentration, and has a hugely positive effect on numeracy and language skills. Giving all young people the best possible music education will help the Government achieve its twin aims of driving up standards and reducing the attainment gap.”

The Importance of Music – A National Plan for Music Education

“High quality music education enables lifelong participation in, and enjoyment of, music, as well as underpinning excellence and professionalism for those who choose not to pursue a career in music.”

Voices of Aotearoa

“Voices of Aotearoa”
Voices NZ Chamber Choir
Chamber Music New Zealand 2011 Season

19 Nov- Wellington
20 Nov- Napier
21 Nov- Auckland
23 Nov- Christchurch
24 Nov- Dunedin

Chris was privileged to be a part of the 16-voice Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir for the culmination of Chamber Music New Zealand’s 2011 season.

“Voices of Aotearoa, an innovative programme exploring New Zealand’s heritage, presented by Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir. Experience the vibrancy of New Zealand’s premier chamber choir, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the spine-tingling sounds of Aotearoa.”

Read more on the CMNZ website.

Reviews of the concerts:

NZ Herald–William Dart

Otago Daily Times– Marian Poole

Middle C– Peter Mechen

Odes to Joy

Odes to Joy
NZSO & Voices NZ Chamber Choir

23 Sept– Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington
24 Sept– Auckland Town Hall
27 Sept– CSO Arena, Christchurch
28 Sept– Dunedin Town Hall

Chris performed as a member of Voices NZ Chamber Choir with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and choirs from each of the main centres to bring two great works to life.

One was Beethoven’s immortal 9th Symphony, his “Ode to Joy”, and the other was a world premiere work by NZ composer Gareth Farr, “Kaitiaki”.

Chris was one of 20 Voices NZ Chamber Choir members who travelled with the NZSO and formed the core of the choir which was supplemented with choristers from each of the local choral societies.

This tour was part of the REAL NZ Arts Festival, as part of the Rugby World Cup 2011 festivities.

Radio NZ Concert– Listen to Rachel Hyde’s review of the Wellington concert

NZSO News– 1st half of tour a “sell out”

Monteverdi Vespers

14 & 15 August 2010
St. Mary of the Angels

Chris sings bass as one of 10 solo voices with Baroque Voices as part of Musica Sacra‘s performance of the 400th anniversary of the Monteverdi Vespers.

These performances mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of this famous work, which is brought to life by ten virtuoso solo singers and an array of period instruments, including cornetti, sackbuts, Baroque strings, two pipe organs and theorbos.

Read more . . . >

Mahler Symphony #8

Chris sang with Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir in this epic performance of Mahler’s 8th Symphony, dubbed the “Symphony of 1000” due to the large number of performers needed to present it, to open the 2010 New Zealand International Arts Festival in Wellington last night.

A very large New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by world-renowned conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, was accompanied by 7 soloists and 5 choirs: Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir, New Zealand Youth Choir, Christchurch City Choir, Orpheus Choir of Wellington and the Choristers of Wellington Cathedral of St Paul.

Read more . . . >

Read a review of the concert . . . >