By: Ben Fraser
It has long been said that music can enhance our intellectual abilities. That performing, practicing, and even listening to music can increase our intelligence. Performing can help improve skills like memorization, adaptation, and hand-eye coordination. Practicing develops mathematical skills, reading ability, abstract thinking, and the skill of learning new concepts. Listening can improve interpretation skills and auditory discrimination. And we’ve all heard of the “Mozart Effect.” This is the idea that listening to classical music can increase our intelligence, especially in children. Whatever way you use it, music can be an effective tool for cognitive improvement.
There has been extensive research done on the association between musical training in childhood and cognitive performance in adulthood. The positive relationship is significant and grows as the duration of practice increases. Memory, attention to detail, verbal understanding, perceptual processing, fine motor skills and overall intelligence improve through playing music. These skills are engaged and sharpened through the practice of a musician and transfer over to more general, non-musical abilities. Improvement of general skills and intelligence through musical education has been referred to as the “far transfer effect.” Strong connections are seen in mathematics, spatial recognition, non-verbal abilities, memorization, reasoning and problem solving.
One study was completed on 144 kids at age six. They were given an intelligence test at the beginning and end of 1 year of music class. It was found that the children had great improvements on their test compared to a control group of children who did not take the music class. Another study assessed the IQ scores of 106 children between the ages of nine and twelve. Half of them were trained in music and the other were not. The study clearly revealed that the students with musical training scored higher on their IQ tests than the others.
With plentiful evidence supporting the correlation between musical exposure and higher intelligence, I would recommend everyone to introduce their children to music. Put them in music lessons, listen to music with them, and play music with them. Not only will they enjoy the process, but it will greatly benefit their intellectual abilities throughout their lives.