Does Music Make You Smarter?

Are Children Who Learn Music Smarter?

Many people believe that teaching children music makes them smarter – better able to learn new things.  But the organizers of a new study say there is no scientific evidence that early musical training affects the intelligence of young people.  Jery Watson joins us with details.

An estimated 80 percent of American adults think music classes improve children’s ability to learn or their performance in school.  They say that the satisfaction from learning to play a new song helps a child express creativity.

An Afghan student practices playing the guitar in a class.
An Afghan student practices playing the guitar in a class.

Researchers at Harvard University, however, have found that there is one thing musical training does not do.  They say it does not make children more intelligent.

Samuel Mehr is a graduate student at Harvard’s School of Education.  He says it is wrong to think that learning to play a musical instrument improves a child’s intellectual development.

He says the evidence comes from studies that measured the mental ability of two groups of four-year-olds and their parents.  One group attended music class.  The other went to a class that places importance on the visual arts – arts that can be seen.

“The answer there is ‘no.’  We found no evidence for any advantage on any of these tests for the kids who were participating in music classes.”

Samuel Mehr says researchers have carried out many studies in an effort to learn whether musical training can make children smarter.  He says the results have been mixed.  He says only one study seemed to show a small percentage increase in IQ – intelligence scores – among students after one year of music lessons.

He does not believe that IQ is a good measure of a child’s intelligence.  He says researchers in his study compared how well children in the music training group did on mental processing tasks, or projects.  Then the results were compared to those of children who did not take lessons.

There was no evidence that the musical training group did much better on the mental tasks than the other group.  The researchers confirmed their results with a larger group of children and their parents.

Mr. Mehr says music lessons may not offer children a fast, easy way to gain entry to the best schools later on in life.  But he says the training is still important for cultural reasons.  In his words, “We teach music because music is important for us.”  He notes that the works of writer William Shakespeare are not taught so that children will do better in physics.  He says Shakespeare is taught because it is important.

“And I don’t think music needs to be any different than that.”

[This article comes from VOA News:]


7 thoughts on “Does Music Make You Smarter?

  1. Now days, children tend to learn music without lessens in public schools. Why they take music lesson are a few reasons. Also, children and parents is different from purpose to take music lessons. Children have simple ideas-achieving their dream as becoming good musician, hoping playing music better, and being fun to play with mates. On the other hand, their parents and music leaders as teacher may have different purpose from children. They nearly hope that children develop artistic and have strength points. Additionally they hope children to become smart by concerning music.
    However, I think that the music does not always make smarter and do not concern to improve children’s IQ because people are difference background and consciousness for music. Additionally by playing the kind of instrument, they appear difference each child. So I agree with Samuel Mehr opinion,too.
    For example, if children take lessons to play the piano for making smart children, they so not always become smarter. They need to keep practice or effort playing the piano for log time. As a result, even if they become good pianists, children look like smart because they have grate skills for experience. If they are able to improve IQ to play the music, they would learn how to play music as technic and process by spending long time.
    Over all, the seemed people who become smart personality by music, are able to know only how to become looks like smart. So, I do not think about link improving IQ of Child and music.

  2. In my opinion, I think it’s important for children to learn and practice music for education of their feelings. By being to learn music, it’s said that it’s the effective way to build up children’s charactor, such as a great sensibility, a good emotion and good charactor building. As a result, learning music gives children an oppotunity to be smarter. In this case, this author’s statement is one-sided. So it’s not good to define “Music” clearly. Because this statement is based on the one-sided survey in the U.S. If there’s no evidence between music and children, from many kinds of viewing, such as education system for music in public and private schools all over the world, this statement should be proven by researchers. It’s at risk to define “Music” through this statement.

  3. I think we need to elaborate things before coming to a conclusion.

    First, let’s start with a definition of “intelligence” and “smart”. According to Oxford dictionary, “intelligence” means the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills [1], and “smart” means having or showing a quick-witted intelligence [2]. At this time, we can infer that “intelligence” composes of various “intelligence in specific area”, so increasing “intelligence” can means increasing one or more “intelligence in specific area”.

    Second, the thing that music class do is to develop skills or knowledge that pertain to its training, such as recognizing rhythm, memorizing, etc. On the other hand, visual arts class helps students increase skills or knowledge of recognizing colors, imagining, etc. In other words, both classes raise the intelligence of their students, yet they help develop different kinds of intelligence since one of them mostly develops skills relates to hearing and the other particularly develops skills relates to sight.

    Next, the researchers fell to the conventional wisdom. Instead of evaluating students’ intelligence through analyzing the different results between before and after taking musical class, they evaluated through comparing results between students in two classes. Since the mental processing projects comprise of various tasks that evaluate many different “intelligence in specific area”, students in musical class may do better than students in visual art class on the tasks that evaluate skills which develop from their training; however, they may not do as well as students in visual art class on the tasks that evaluate skills which develop from visual art training. Consequently, it leads to the even results.

    Generally, I disagree with this article. In my opinion, I think that music does help us to be smart. Though not all kinds of intelligence are developed by music, I believe that music still help us develop intelligence in certain kinds.


  4. I don’t believe music makes children smarter, or get better grades in the regular subjects at school with the common teaching techniques, but I wonder what would happen if the children were thought with the same techniques use to teach music.

    A common expression says that music is another language. I do believe that people who have studied music can learn another language more easily and faster than people exposed only to the visual techniques like reading and memorizing.
    Students who learn through a combination of multiple senses (visual, audio, and probably emotions) instead of reasoning and memorization have and advance doing mental gymnastic.

    Music is a wonderful hobby and, even though everybody loves it, not everyone has the gift of musical talent. Whether or not music makes you smarter or helps children get better grades, those that have this gift should use it.


  5. The early musical training effects to develop the intelligence in young people,I think. The famous brain scientist in Japan recommends learning piano enhances brain development from some reasons. First,using their fingers effects to activate to brain. Second, When they play a piano,their eyes have to look at the score and their fingers play the piano on same time. Doing two things at once is also giving good effect to their brain development. Third, they need to read and memorizes notes in the score before pounding that notes. Forth,It is known sound wave to effect to brain generally. it gives big effect to brain not only young people.During resent years, we often hear, elderly people start to learn piano for stopping their dementia. Also,music effects to sensibility a lot.
    From these fact,I am not sure music make them to be smart or intelligence but music helps to develop their brain and intelligence from great sensibility.

  6. I think music does not make you smarter because there is no particular evidence. About 5 years ago, playing classic music (especially Mozart) to a baby was popular in Japan. At that time, people believed it makes children smarter. Many mothers bought Mozart CDs and tried to make their children more intelligent. However, there was not scientifically proven. They lost interest in it.
    I think playing classical music to a baby does not make children more intelligent. In Japan, music is written in Chinese character “音楽”. In the meaning of Chinese character, we enjoy sound. Therefore, it is not that people become smart. However, music can enrich children’s mind and be able to expand their mind.

  7. In my opinion, I don’t think that music makes you smarter. However, music can affects some developments. For example, there is one research that people who play a musical instrument have an advantage of learning second language. People who play instrument, they are good at listening, and they can distinguish a differences of sounds. Therefore, playing music dose not improve children’s IQ but some part of children’s developments might improve by playing music.

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