tCI’s music programs—like Holy Cross’ Mariachi Band and Marimba Ensemble—teach responsibility, leadership, mentoring, and discipline, and give group members the opportunity to expand their horizons beyond their neighborhood. These programs also give young musicians a chance to socialize and have fun while learning and playing music. And now recent research shows that this musical experience also helps young people succeed in school.
A recent study from Northwestern University in Illinois showed that learning and playing music can actually change the brain, making it easier for young people to process sounds. This ability can then improve their reading and speech skills. Previous studies have also shown that music can improve focus, concentration, and memory in children. Young people who become involved in music have also been found to have improved attitudes and motivations about school; they like school more.
Researchers found that youth must study music for at least two years to experience these changes in their brains. These findings support the experience of Holy Cross’ staff, who have observed that the longer young people stay in their music programs, specifically the Marimba Ensemble, the better they do in school and the more likely they are to continue into higher education. For example, 100% of the youth who have stayed in the Marimba Ensemble for three or more years have gone on to college.
When you combine this research with the many other positive benefits of keeping youth engaged, it becomes clear how important these programs are to the communities and the young people they serve.
Consider making a donation as part of our #GivingTuesday campaign, and help us spread the word about our programs on Facebook and Twitter. Together we can keep building leaders, mentors, and successful students.