Guitar Lessons for All Ages
Music lessons may raise kids' IQs a few points
Thursday, August 26, 2004
The study of six-year-olds found that those who took music lessons for one year gained more points on IQ tests compared with their peers not involved in music classes. The benefit was seen across the spectrum of abilities measured in the tests, including math, language and spatial skills.
The findings are published in the journal Psychological Science.
Research has long suggested an association between intelligence and involvement in music, but whether music lessons actually push IQ upward has been unclear. It could be that children with higher IQs may be more likely to take music lessons because more-educated, higher-income parents can provide them.
To investigate the question, Dr. E. Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto at Mississauga in Canada followed 144 children who were randomly assigned to take either music lessons -- keyboard or singing -- drama lessons, or no extracurricular classes. The children took standard tests of IQ at the beginning and end of the year, and parents completed a survey on their children's behavior.
After a year of singing and keyboard lessons, children in the music groups showed a bigger gain in IQ points than the others did. On average, Schellenberg found, children who took music lessons gained seven IQ points, while those in the other two groups gained about four.
And since the children were randomly placed in their respective groups, Schellenberg told Reuters Health, it seems that kids who simply take music lessons -- whether they're musically gifted or not -- stand to benefit.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that there's something about learning music, in particular, that does an IQ good, according to the researcher. "It may be that they're doing extracurricular activities," he said, adding that learning chess, or taking part in a science program, might show the same effects on IQ scores.
This may not be true of all extracurricular activities, however, since drama lessons did not show an IQ benefit in this study. On the other hand, the study did find that, unlike children in the other groups, those in the drama group showed improvement in their social skills.
"And who's to say that's less important than a few points in IQ?" Schellenberg said. So the lesson from these findings, according to Schellenberg, may be that getting kids "away from the TV" and involved in activities that interest them is bound to reap benefits.
"A life full of rich experiences is good," he said.
Send mail to
questions or comments about this web site.