Perry pushes elementary music bill after UF study 

Florida state capitol building in Tallahassee.
Florida state capitol building in Tallahassee.

After financing a UF study, the Florida Legislature will consider financing twice weekly music classes for kindergarten through second grade students in a proposal brought forward by State Sen. Keith Perry.  

Called the Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Program, the program helps elementary schools to host music classes by paying $150 per student enrolled in the class. Besides music education, the program aims to increase outcomes in other classes as well.  

“This year, I hope to have funding to implement that on a voluntary basis where the schools who adopted the program would get funded and make that available to all children in the public education model in the state of Florida,” Perry, R-Gainesville, said in a phone interview.  

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In order to receive the state funds, a school must enroll all kindergarten through second graders in the program, provide certified music teachers and teach at least 30 minutes of music education twice a week. 

FL Senate District 9 Keith Perry
Keith Perry

During the 2021-2022 school year, UF researchers studied 10 schools across Alachua, Marion and Miami-Dade counties. The report found “moderate relations” between the music class and increased academic achievement in second graders.  

UF’s Dr. Anne Seraphine, the principal investigator for the program, said low variability in music grades made it difficult to draw hard conclusions across the study. However, the Legislature approved continuing the study during the 2022-23 school year to gather more data.  

“So, it’s difficult to see relationships because of that property of the grades,” Seraphine said in a phone interview. “And that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the grades, not at all. The grades are assigned as they should be assigned.” 

Grades just don’t have much variability to begin with, Seraphine said, especially for classes like music or art.  

Besides academic outcomes, the study also looked at learning behaviors and found the music classes supported goals like eagerness to participate in learning activities, active effort and responding quickly to teacher instructions. 

“But what was valuable from our study was just being able to detect that there is a relationship between music and academic behaviors as we measured,” Seraphine said. “And so, that gives at least partial evidence that music is a good thing to have in the schools, and I think this program is one such attempt.” 

The bill must work its way through the Senate and Housing during the upcoming session. Rep. Alina Garcia, R-Miami-Dade, filed an identical bill to Perry’s in the Florida House.  

The Education Pre-K –12, Appropriations Committee on Education and Appropriations committees will also examine the bill.  

“I was impressed by the quality of instruction and the care the teachers had for the students,” Seraphine said. “All three districts really put their all into making sure this initiative was delivered well and the children got the most they could from it.” 

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Yvonne Kendall

This is hardly the first study to establish a link between music classes and academic performance. Music classes should be always be included in K-12 curricula.


I think the idea of helping students improve is widely accepted. What I would love to see from legislators is for an admission that simply throwing more money to fund more programs is NOT going to fix the real cause of the problems–the students’ parents and home life.