Music plays a large role in the lives of college students. The majority of students always walk around campus with their headphones in, and no social event is complete without a perfect playlist.

No Badger fans can imagine Camp Randall on game day without the fight song, fun halftime performances and the overall spirit that the marching band brings to football games. This spirit, however, also carries itself into classrooms, specifically into the Mosse Humanities building, where the University of Wisconsin’s music department is currently located.

The Mead Witter School of Music offers a multitude of classes and ensembles for UW music majors and non-music majors, including two different types of orchestras, four different kinds of bands and seven types of choirs.

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Nevertheless, many still underestimate the importance of music in higher education. Music programs have a history of being underfunded, underappreciated, and unacknowledged by the education system. Yet, there are a multitude of benefits to music education.

According to the National Association for Music Education, musical training helps improve the minds of students through its emphasis on memorization, hand-eye coordination and hard work. In fact, students with music performance experience are known to score higher on the SAT than students without it.

Furthermore, participating in music is a great way to cope with stress. According to a 2008 study, eight in 10 college students sometimes or frequently experience stress. Especially at a school as academically challenging as UW, this number is likely higher.

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Thankfully, when college students feel overwhelmed or anxious, music is the perfect solution. Music-making is known to end stress build-up quickly, and can keep stress from becoming chronic. Light jazz and classical music are some of the best types for reducing stress, which directly correlate with band and orchestral programs.

Studies show that listening to or playing music can reduce the likelihood of burnout among nursing students and those who work in healthcare, which is especially relevant to UW, with its multitude of hospitals and dedicated nursing students.

“Music therapy,” an increasingly common term, is a way of improving emotional well-being and overall mental health through the use of music. This can be through listening to music, playing an instrument, singing or using music-guided imagery.

The science behind it is actually quite simple.

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According to Michigan State University Extension, “research indicates that music stimulates the production of opiates and endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones in our bodies.” 

Administrators and advisers often stress the importance of student organizations and getting involved in campus, but it seems that the benefits of joining music ensembles are rarely mentioned. Thankfully, the new Hamel Music Center is set to open in 2019, and UW’s music ensembles will be receiving an extremely large upgrade from the old concert halls of the Humanities building.

Overall, music is a constant in the lives of students, but music education is especially important to maintaining the well-being of today’s high-pressured, stressed-out college students. UW’s Mead Witter School of Music offers a wide range of opportunities to get involved, and with a new music hall almost ready to open, students should take advantage of the power of music.

Courtney Degen ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science and journalism.