My 6 Year Old Seems To Have No Common Sense The IQ in Music – Do Music Lessons For Your Kids Make Them Smarter?

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The IQ in Music – Do Music Lessons For Your Kids Make Them Smarter?

Just listening to classical music – the so-called ‘Mozart effect’ – won’t make you smarter. I have presented the reasons for this decision elsewhere. In this article we will look at the question, “Do music lessons make a child smarter?” Do music lessons have ‘collateral benefits’ that extend to non-musical areas of knowledge? Do music lessons increase a child’s overall IQ level, making them better at reasoning, math and language comprehension?” How this question was answered is as interesting as the answer it turns out to be.

Why is this question interesting?

Here is one answer. Children have limited free time to invest in extracurricular activities, and parents must make choices between their children’s activities. If the choice is between, for example, ballet and music lessons, and music is known to increase intelligence but ballet is not, this could be reason enough to choose music over ballet. Ballet may be good for reasons that music may not be – for motor coordination skills, for example – but at least now the parent has a firmer basis on which to choose.

How can we not answer the question: Do music lessons improve IQ?

The question is ‘do music lessons make a child smarter?’ it is not something that can be answered through common sense and the facts of personal experience. It may be tempting to reason from your observation that all the children you know who take music lessons are doing well in school, that these lessons must be helping them to be improving their intelligence and school success. But this conclusion is not justified. Why not? Because it is just as likely that they both do better in school and take music because they are from a certain socio-economic class where the average IQ is higher to begin with. Children with a high IQ are more likely than other children to take music lessons because better educated and wealthier parents tend to give their children music lessons – it is part of the culture of the more educated and wealthier to give music lessons over. Not all parents are educated and wealthy, but many are. But this does not necessarily mean that music lessons have any effect on the development of children’s understanding. Many educated and wealthy parents also buy special brands of clothes for their children, but the clothes that children wear do not make them smarter.

So we can’t go on trying to find out if taking music lessons improves IQ like this.

How can we answer the question: Do music lessons improve IQ?

To get the answer to this question we need to do an experiment. We need to organize things like this: take many children from different backgrounds and randomly assign (by flipping a coin) half of these children to music lessons for a year, and half to outside activities the school for a year. year – for example ballet, or football. We test both groups of children on an IQ test before the lessons, and then again after the lessons, and see if there is a difference between the two groups. If there is a difference – if those who took music lessons on average score higher on the IQ test – we know that it is not due to family background (because family backgrounds are mixed equally across both groups). If we find a difference we will also be more confident that the information gain is specific to music and not extracurricular activities (whether music, drama, ballet, karate or football). In fact, by doing this type of ‘critical test’ we will ensure that we have identified the effect of the music lessons on intelligence.

The critical Schellenberg test

In 2004 someone finally did this scientific experiment: Glenn Schellenberg from the Department of Psychology, University of Toronto. He placed an ad in a local, community newspaper, offering weekly art lessons to 6-year-olds for a year. 144 children were then randomly assigned to one of four different groups, with 36 children in each group. Group 1 received keyboard lessons, Group 2 received voice/singing lessons, Group 3 received drama lessons, and Group 4 had no extracurricular lessons. The teachers were trained, female professionals. The children in all groups took an intelligence test called the WISC-III both before and after the lesson year. The WISC-III is the most popular and widely used intelligence test for children. The four groups had the same average IQ at the start of the experiment. Children in each group differed in their level of intelligence, of course, but the average intelligence of each group was the same. This is obviously important for us to draw any conclusions regarding the impact of the different types of lessons.

And what did Schellenberg find? Do music lessons increase IQ?

The first interesting finding was that all four groups of children showed an increase in IQ level after the year was up, even the group that did not take any lessons. What explains this general increase in IQ for all children? An increase in IQ is known as a normal result of entering grade school. Since all these children started high school during the experiment period, it is easy to explain this general IQ increase as a result of simple school attendance.

But – and this is the crux – both groups really enjoyed music lessons more gain in IQ than the drama and ‘lesson’ groups. We can conclude from these data that taking music lessons, but not drama lessons, led to gains in intelligence over and above the gains from attending school. The type of music lesson did not matter (whether keyboard or voice); each group had the same average IQ score after a year of lessons. And the two music groups had an IQ score 3 points higher compared to the drama and n0-lesson groups who did not differ from each other in their IQ score.

This relative superiority of IQ in the musical groups was not limited to one particular aspect of intelligence – such as spatial intelligence – but was found in all but 2 of the 12 subtests of the WISC intelligence test. -III, over a wide range of cognitive experience. abilities that require understanding. Each subtest benefited from what’s called fluid cognition—the ability to reason and find relationships in a way that doesn’t rely on background knowledge.

Effect size: How should we judge it?

3 IQ points doesn’t sound like a big win, but there is a way to look at this gain in IQ that helps put it into perspective and helps us assess its significance. Compare it to the benefit of going to grade school first. The average IQ gain for going to school was about 4 points. So the added benefit of taking music lessons (3 points) was almost as great as the full school experience itself. This now looks like a pretty big win.

What is special about music?

We must be clear about one thing. The Schellenberg experiment shows that music lessons improve the IQ of six-year-olds. It does not tell us that music lessons improve IQ for older children or for adults unfortunately. Six-year-old brains are known to be very ‘plastic’ – that is, these young brains can be shaped and reorganized to a great extent by experience. Older children and adults have less brain plasticity and one might expect that a year of music lessons in this case would have less effect on general intelligence – although we don’t know for sure.

In taking music lessons, knowledge and skill related to music increases, and this is important in itself. But what Schellenberg’s experiment shows, in addition to this, is that general cognitive ability is trained and developed – indirectly. It is good to take ‘brain training’ at this age! Music lessons involve long periods of focused attention, daily practice, reading music notation, memorizing extended musical passages, learning about a variety of musical structures (eg scales, chords), and fine motor skills. It is not known with certainty which combination of these skills improves general understanding, and further studies need to investigate this question.

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