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September 21, 2015

MacKenzie Masten

Why Interacting With Music Makes Kids Smarter

Topics: STEAM

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Music is a part of every life, every culture, every ounce of history. Whether we’re a music lover, a music hater, tone deaf or actually deaf; we all have some sort of relationship with music. While every relationship is unique in its own right, the relationship between child and music may perhaps be the most interesting.

Does Music Really Make My Kid Smarter?

“Music makes you smarter” is quite possibly the most popular phrase when talking about music for children. People believe that listening to music during any stage of development for a child will make a drastic impact on the prefrontal cortex; what most people refer to as the “Mozart effect”. Music does have the ability to improve a range of skills for your child including but not limited to academic, social, and physical. But how much of an effect does music actually have on your child’s academic skills? If your child listens to Mozart everyday for 5 hours, does that mean they will have the IQ of Albert Einstein?

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The Research Behind the Music:

The correlation between music and IQ comes from three major studies from the researchers at UC Irvine and Stanford. They documented the short term increase in performance on spatial reasoning tasks after listening to Mozart. While the second study showed that piano instruction caused preschoolers to improve on a single test of spatial reasoning ability. A third study stated that children are found to have long term improvements after interacting and engaging with music.

In a separate study done with students, schools with top-quality music programs scored 22% better in English and 20% better in mathematics than schools with deficient music programs. Overall it was found that students with some quality of music education always performed better than schools without said program.   

Music Education Then and Now:

Students who have access to high quality music programs—regardless of the socioeconomic level of the community—score higher on standardized tests.  Music has had a home in the education system since the early 1800s. Lately, due to a lack of funding, qualified music teachers, and school board support, the music education system in schools is suffering.

The decline of musical education in the last decade has inspired some people to act for change as several organizations have been founded to hopefully fix the way the education system works. Organizations such as Music For All and The Creative Coalition work towards creating, providing and expanding positively life-changing experiences through music/arts for all.  The National Association for Music Education is another great ogranization that works to make sure every student has access to high-quality music education.           

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When to Get Kids Involved in Music:

You can kick start your child’s development by introducing them to music at any age. The sooner the better, but listening alone is not the most effective, your child has to connect with the music.

How to Get Kids Involved in Music:

We’ve said it many times in this article, the power of music engagement makes a substantial impact on the way your child develops. Music engagement can come from singing in the car, dancing in the living room, playing an instrument, and even cooking to music. All of these activities, and more, can help your child interact with music and further their development academically, socially and physically.  Keep in mind, you do not need to have any musical skill to help your child interact with music, there are lots of fun and effective options out there!

Deemed as the “cheapest music lessons around”, our first musical game is the perfect way to get your child connected with music. The music making software was created by world-famous composer and cellist, Philip Sheppard, with the mission to allow anyone to play with music, learn music, and create a world-class song. When talking about the idea behind the game Philip states, “[t]his is a labour of love aimed at one single, simple point; that is to enable a child to feel (with goosebumps) that a bar of music can have the potential of a Lego® block." What better way to introduce your child to music than through play?

Recap: 

So does music make you smarter? Yes, but solely listening to music will not transform your child into Mozart, Einstein, or Hilary Clinton. Your child must engage and connect with music in order to reap the benefits long-term. If your child is able to engage with the music they will have access to a wide range of neurological benefits that will last into adulthood.

Fast Facts:

  • Music makes you smarter
  • Music must be interacted with rather than just simply listened to for best benefits
  • There’s a decreasing amount of music/arts education in schools
  • There are ways to get your child involved in music early on
  • Compose Yourself is the best way to have your child play with music

Do you already include music in your child's life? If not how do you plan to integrate music into their life? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter (@ThinkFun) with #WonderOfMusic!

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