When I've looked at this before, it was a correlative relationship but causation was not demonstrated. So, it appeared that students with the perseverance and intelligence needed to learn a musical instrument also applied themselves in math class. That's quite different from saying piano playing improves math skills.
Now this press release from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities comes out.
A study by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities says arts education is an effective tool for school reform, even as arts education funding has declined.The Knight Foundation funds arts programs. I cannot seem to access the report now, but maybe I'll be able to read it later.
The "Reinvesting in Arts Education" study being released Friday examined recent data from schools in Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Chicago and New York City. It finds integrating the arts with other subjects is particularly effective at raising achievement in math and reading.
In the report, Education Secretary Arne Duncan writes that data demonstrates arts education improves achievement in other subjects. Visual arts instruction improves reading, and learning to play a musical instrument can improve math skills. Students engaged in the arts also had higher attendance rates.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation funded the report.