Music Practice Makes Kids More Intelligent

Those musicians who were fortunate enough to have music training as a child may have always felt as though they were in a group of ‘elite’ people – people who were educated, well spoken and skilled. Recent research suggests that music training may well make people more intelligent – especially when it’s started at a young age.

Two researchers at Harvard University, Gottfried Schlaug and Ellen Winner, have recently revealed the surprising results of a recent study that involved testing the cognitive development of 41 children between the ages of eight and eleven years of age who had received musical training compared to 18 children who had no such training. The results have proven to be most startling: children who have studied a musical instrument for at least three years outperformed non-musical children in a number of different ways. One might expect the obvious differences which were confirmed by the test – such as children who’d received instruction having better finger dexterity and auditory discrimination. But it seems that the mental development provided through musical training far surpassed just these facets of the children’s lives.

The results of the recent study were recently published online in PLoS ONE. Apparently both groups of children spent 30-40 minutes a week in general music classes at school. But what really made the difference was that the children in the instrumental group also received private lessons and they spent extra time practicing their instrument at home. Most children played either the piano or a string instrument. The final tests also measured seemingly unrelated things, such as verbal ability and visual pattern completion. Their verbal ability was measured by a vocabulary IQ test, while their visual pattern completion was measured by the Raven’s Progressive Matrices. In both spheres the children taking extra lessons and practicing at home scored much higher than those who were not receiving extra instruction. The scores also dramatically improved if the child had being studying for longer or putting more effort into their studies. The results of these tests clearly shed light on whether or not there is a connection between music and other seemingly unrelated skills. However, researchers felts that further studies would need to be made before more conclusions could be drawn on the subject.