The Journal of Educational Psychology published a study showing that, not only do organized music lessons help students’ performance in school and raise their IQ levels, but that the effects increase when the instruction continues for a longer span of time.
The initial study, led by researcher E. Glenn Schellenberg, PhD, compared two groups of six-year-olds. One group began voice and/or piano lessons at age 6, and the other group waited until age 7 to begin lessons.
The subsequent study tested to see if the differences increased with more than a year of lessons. As it turns out, these positive effects did increase.
Schellenberg, who teaches psychology at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, has also studied children at older ages as well, and surveyed how many years each had taken private or group music lessons.
Six years of music lessons correlated to an IQ increase of 7.5 points, compared with fellow students who had not had those lessons.
Schellenberg’s study found that childhood music lessons was a “significant predictor” of not only higher IQ’s, but higher Grade Point Averages in high school students.
Part of this difference may be attributed to the fact that higher-achieving students are more likely to embrace the challenges presented by music lessons. Another reason, though, particularly of interest to music instructors, could be that reading music strengthens connections in the brain, and makes the brain more receptive to processing other kinds of information and ideas.
More information on these studies can be found at the American Psychological Association’s website.