Music Training for Children Increases their Verbal Intelligence
An interesting new study Short-Term Music Training Enhances Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function has been published in this month’s Psychological Science. The author Sylvain Moreno and colleagues summarize their findings:
Here we report the effects of two interactive computerized training programs developed for preschool children: one for music and one for visual art. After only 20 days of training, only children in the music (but not the visual art) group exhibited enhanced performance on a measure of verbal intelligence, with 90% of the sample showing this improvement.
The children who participated in the study were between the ages of 4 and 6. The results clearly connect IQ improvement.
“These results are dramatic not only because they clearly connect cognitive improvement to musical training, but also because the improvements in language and attention are found in completely different domains than the one used for training. This has enormous implications for development and education.”
York University psychologist Ellen Bialystok, one of the paper’s co-authors.
The music program “included training in rhythm, pitch, melody, voice and basic musical concepts”. All received the training in a classroom in groups led by a teacher – one hour per day, five days per week for four weeks.
This finding is consistent with a recent study of second-graders, that found the reading skills of those who had musical training were superior to those of their peers.
In addition, earlier research has shown that music training is far greater than computer instruction in improving children’s abstract reasoning skills (link).
These studies show that cutting music education to concentrate on “the basics” is based on a misunderstanding of the way the brain works.