Monday, October 18, 2010

Music Lessons Enhance IQ

Reference: Schellenberg, E. Glenn. (2004). Music Lessons Enhance IQ. Psychological Science, 15(8), 511-514

Summary: A number of studies investigated the effect of music training on children’s intelligence. Typically two groups were used for such studies where one group had music lessons and the other had not. While most of the results showed that music lessons increase children’s intelligence, it was not clear in the studies if it was music that brought such results, or other factors, such as the well-planned extracurricular instruction, also had an influence. To eliminate the ambiguity, Schellenberg divided 144 six-year-olds children into two groups; the first groups received standard keyboard or Kodaly voice lessons while the second group received drama lessons or no lessons. Drama lessons were offered to one of the control groups to see the effect of non-music yet artistic activities. IQ was measured from both groups before and after the test, and  the result showed that the group with the music lesson showed greater increase of IQ than the control group, as seen in Figure 1.

Reflection: Schellenberg explored the question that I had about the other studies on the “Music makes you smarter” claim, which was whether the other arts can have the same impact. The ‘with music lessons versus no lesson’ model is biased towards the greater intelligence on the test group since having any kinds of well-structured instruction will be better than having none. Schellenberg’s design was effective that the control group was involved in similar artistic activities. Results from Schellenberg’s study make it more evident that learning music makes people smarter, especially the children. Although this side effect of increased intelligence cannot be the purpose of learning music, it suggests the possibility of using music to help academically at-risk children. It will be interesting if learning different instruments affects different areas of intelligence so that specific music instruction can be given to help the students struggling in a particular subject. There were some studies using ‘singing lessons versus keyboard lessons’ model, but the results were different in each study. It will be in my interest to investigate the relationship between particular instrument learning to the brain development through reviewing more related research.


Lucas Marchand said...

This is an interesting study Grace, especially on the heels of the questionable survey from our last Research in Music Education class:) In the chart you included, it appears that the students who took the Kodaly and Voice lessons experienced the greatest improvement in IQ. Finally vindication for the vocalists! It seems likely that the multi-modal nature of the Kodaly training was more important than the fact the students were actually singing, but I think that the social nature of singing probably also had an impact.

Lisa Tahara said...

Thanks for this post, Grace!
I think that I should print it and the chart to distribute to all my students' parents. I try to incorporate a *lot* of singing at my students' piano lessons especially at the beginning stages (but of course, some children are reluctant to sing at piano lessons), so it is great to see documented studies such as these which prove that combining these artistic endeavors will in fact make children smarter!
The one question I have for Schellenberg is what kind of a time frame he used for his study to measure IQ, as in how long did the children receive keyboard/voice/drama lessons?