At work and at play | Music and Intelligence

Many people have heard of the Mozart effect, which is the notion that you can increase your intelligence by listening to the Austrian composer’s music. Some pregnant mothers even put headphones on their bellies to help their little ones get a real head-start in life. However, there have been studies saying that it is more than listening to music that really makes the difference. Some research has shown that taking music lessons in childhood, especially piano or voice, appears to significantly benefit a child’s IQ and improve their performance at school. Music can apparently help children to concentrate on spatial-temporal tasks that can improve their creative artwork. Other reasons given are that music lessons require reading skills, maths ability, vocabulary and verbal memory, so the little minds are being stretched in that direction while they are learning music, and those skills can then be used and applied in academic learning.

More studies have also shown that children who study music are required to develop specific skills such as focusing attention for long periods of time, learning different patterns, translating musical codes into precise movements and memorising long passages of music – amongst other things. And for those reasons, being exposed to music can positively benefit a child’s brain because it promotes language acquisition, listening skills, memory and motor skills. And finally, in order to learn to play music, a child needs discipline and concentration – which are very important in academic achievement. So your little ones are in full learning mode when they are playing those first notes on the piano. And learning how to make tunes while they’re at it!

However, there were other studies that say the evidence that links involvement in music and having a higher IQ is not completely valid in itself. They believe that it is simply the fact that musical children generally come from more privileged backgrounds and have parents who tend to be better-educated and higher earners, so they push their children more and encourage them to do more extra-curricular activities. The way they were brought up helped the children develop certain characteristics such as conscientiousness and an openness to new experiences, and it wasn’t the actual music lessons that developed their personalities.

But does it really matter who is right or wrong? Children are learning new skills, and they are doing so in an enjoyable way. So wait no longer. Forget Lego and PlayStation 4 for Christmas. Get your child a piano and you just might be able to change and improve their life forever! And who knows, you might even discover a little Mozart or Rachmaninov in your own home.