Benefits To Intellectual Skills

Benefits To Intellectual Skills


Success in school and in society depends on an array of abilities. Without joining the intense ongoing debate about the nature of intelligence as a basic ability, we can demonstrate that some measures of a child's intelligence are indeed increased with music instruction. Once again, this burgeoning range of data supports a long-established base of anecdotal knowledge to the effect that music education makes kids smarter. What is new and especially compelling, however, is a combination of tightly-controlled behavioral studies and groundbreaking neurological research that show how music study can actively contribute to brain development:

  • "The musician is constantly adjusting decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling--training the brain to become incredibly good at organising and conducting numerous activities at once. Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attentional skills, intelligence, and an ability for self-knowledge and expression." Ratey John J., MD. A User's Guide to the Brain. New York: Pantheon Books, 2001.

  • A research team exploring the link between music and intelligence reported that music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning math and science. Shaw, Rauscher, Levine, Wright, Dennis and Newcomb, "Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's spatial-temporal reasoning," Neurological Research, Vol. 19, February 1997​.

  • Researchers at the University of Montreal used various brain imaging techniques to investigate brain activity during musical tasks and found that sight-reading musical scores and playing music both activate regions in all four of the cortex's lobes; and that parts of the cerebellum are also activated during those tasks. Sergent, J., Zuck, E., Tenial, S., and MacDonall, B. (1992). Distributed neural network underlying musical sight reading and keyboard performance. Science, 257, 106-109.

  • Researchers in Leipzig found that brain scans of musicians showed larger planum temporale (a brain region related to some reading skills) than those of non-musicians. They also found that the musicians had a thicker corpus callosum than those of non-musicians, especially for those who had begun their training before the age of seven. Schlaug, G., Jancke, L., Huang, Y., and Steinmetz, H. (1994). In I. Deliege (Ed.), Proceedings of the 3d international conference for music perception and cognition (pp. 417-418). Liege, Belgium.

  • A University of California (Irvine) study showed that after eight months of keyboard lessons, preschoolers showed a 46% boost in their spatial reasoning IQ. Rauscher, Shaw, Levine, Ky and Wright, "Music and Spatial Task Performance: A Causal Relationship," University of California, Irvine, 1994.