How music benefits children
Dawn Rose, University of Hertfordshire
Popular ideas, such as the “Mozart effect” – the idea that listening to classical music improves intelligence – has encouraged the belief that “music makes you smarter”.
This interest in the relationship between musical aptitude on ability and intelligence has been around for some time. But despite these beliefs being pretty widespread, there is still no conclusive evidence to actually prove that listening to certain types of music really can improve your intelligence.
In 1974, music researchers Desmond Sergeant and Gillian Thatcher said that:
All highly intelligent people are not necessarily musical, but all highly musical people are apparently highly intelligent.
And “apparently” is the key word here, because the evidence regarding musical listening in itself is mixed. Research has shown that listening to music shows an improvement in certain kinds of mental tasks. But these are specifically short-term improvements involving “spatial-temporal reasoning” skills – puzzle solving type tasks.
Listening Vs Playing
But while listening to music is all well and good, what about actually playing it? Research that focuses on how or if playing a musical instrument can impact on intelligence, often looks at how learning in one area can lead to improvements in other areas – an idea known as “transfer effects”.
This is the idea that learning to play the violin, or the drums, could help children to do better in their spellings or a science project. And this is in part the reason why some parents naturally encourage their children to learn an instrument – because of a belief that it will in some way make them more intelligent.
Read more here.