“It is no longer the question whether or not musical training is associated with higher cognitive abilities, because there is growing evidence that it is”.

Did you know that there is a fantastic method by which you can boost your childs IQ, auditory perception, language skills, motor control, vocabulary, reading ability and confidence? It can also boost their self discipline and planning abilities, all of which are vital for academic performance.

By learning to play guitar.

Several scientific studies have shown that long term training on a musical instrument can effectively rewire and enhance a persons brain. This works for all ages, but is very effective in children, being at an age where they are immersed in learning.
Effect on IQ and Cognitive Ability

One study carried out an investigation into the quantitative effect that learning an instrument has on a child’s IQ. It was shown that 30 weeks of music lessons led to an increase in IQ of 7 points. The study also had some students who were waiting for music lessons or taking drama lessons – the students who attended music lessons showed a 61% increase in IQ over the group who did not receive music lessons. </br></br>In a separate study, boys from a non-selected sample of third grade elementary school who played an instrument were shown to have a higher non-verbal IQ and were better in a formal spelling test compared to boys who did not play an instrument. </br></br>In another study, participants who had been studying a musical instrument for at least three years where shown to have higher cognitive functions than those who had not.

Further, researcher Glenn Schellenberg uncovered a greater IQ increase in children enrolled in music classes compared with well-matched children who received no musical lessons.

Finally, a paper in “Advances in Cognitive Psychology” even went as far to say:

“It is no longer the question whether or not musical training is associated with higher cognitive abilities, because there is growing evidence that it is”.

 

Language Benefits

There seems to be a link between musical training and language abilities since musical training in childhood influences the development of auditory processing in the cortex. Learning to play an instrument requires using the ear critically to discern sounds and changes in pitch. This exercises the auditory processing section of the brain, which is also used for language skills. Additionally, musical aptitude was found to correlate with second language acquisition.

To quote a paper by Nina Kraus and Bharath Chandrasekaran are at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory and the Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences, Northwestern University:

“Musicians are more successful than non-musicians in learning to incorporate sound patterns of a new language into words.”

“Children who are musically trained show stronger neural activation to pitch patterns of their native language, have better vocabulary and better reading ability compared with children who did not receive music training.”

Other benefits

Aswell as the IQ and musical benefits from learning an instrument, the training can help improve a childs’ vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning. The positive effects from learning to play a musical instrument can last a lifetime, with one study concluding that participants who had learnt a musical instrument had their brains protected from the effects of ageing.

 

Duration of Lessons

The total period over which music lessons are consistently attended appears to be important, and researchers used a period of around 15 months as a baseline for observing positive effects on a participants brain, specifically increases in the auditory and motor control sections. A study has found a correlation between duration of music lessons and performance in verbal and non-verbal IQ tests, as well as school performance. The study was done with children aged 6-11. The positive effects from continued music lessons as a child were observable in undergraduates at university who had played an instrument as a child.

 

Why does this happen?

The positive effects come about because the brain is ‘molded’ by what we spend our time doing. This effect is called “neuroplasticity” and means we can literally rewire our brains. Learning a musical instrument involves getting several different sections of the brain to work together simultaneously, so repeated exposure and taking lessons over an extended period of time acts like a “gym” for our minds. The longer music lessons are attended, the more the different areas of the brain are forced to work together.

Closing Remark

The quote at the beginning sums up the benefits of learning a musical instrument:

“…fine grained auditory skills of musicians, which are acquired through years of training, percolate to other domains, such as speech, language, emotion and auditory processing. Thus, music training improves auditory skills that are not exclusively realted to music.”

N. Kraus, B. Chandrasekaran, Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory and the Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences, Northwestern University.

If you would like a list of resources/links to articles quoted, please send me an email and I would be happy to forwards you the information, or comment below.