Students should purchase the No. Parents and teachers may want to consider adding another item to their back-to school lists, such as musical instruments.

Many studies have shown that music education is beneficial for children in both the classroom and outside of it. Columbia University’s Columbia University study found that students who are involved in the arts are more open to learning from their peers and teachers, have higher self-confidence and are better able express themselves. Students who study music have higher IQs that their peers. Additionally, art programs are known to increase critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Patricia Shehan Campbell, Ph.D. of the University of Washington conducted a study that examined 1,155 essays written by teenagers about school music programs. The essays demonstrated that music provides teens with a way to express themselves creatively and emotionally.

Independent organizations are working hard for students to access music educations, despite the fact that music programs across the country are being cut. NAMM, a trade association representing the international music product industry for 109 years, launched Wanna Play Fund (a non-profit) to support activities and programs that enhance music education in schools. Mike Huckabee (bass player, former governor of Arkansas), supports the Wanna Play Fund. It uses donations to support community-based music programs, and to provide instruments for schools.

SchoolJam USA, another NAMM sponsored program, encourages teenagers and teens to form bands through an all-teen battles-of-the bands competition. For amateur bands between 13 and 19, they can compete for prizes and musical instruments. They also get funding for their school’s music programs.

After Math won $5,000 for their schools’ music programs. They also received a trophy in form of a platinum album, and a grand prize trip to Europe to perform at SchoolJam 2010 in Frankfurt, Germany. This contest is open to children who want to start their own bands or get involved. Sign up to join the SchoolJam USA 2011 competition as a teen band after August 2, 2010.