Why Music Makes Kids Smarter

Doctors say memory and IQ can be improved just by listening to music. Researchers have documented that even toddlers with a year of additional music education measurably changes brain development, prompting teachers to integrate classroom music resources into their learning plans.

Research studies show that not only do the brains of children react differently to music, compared to their peers who do not listen to music, they also show greater advances in general intelligence: in word memory, mathematical thinking, reading ability, spatial vision.

Classical music, as it has been said for years, boosts brain performance, which many call the “Mozart” effect. Scientists say the harmonies of the piano would increase the motivation to work by increasing cognitive arousal and improving mood. Research also shows that this can be achieved not only with Mozart, but also with the help of other types of music.

Influencing the Brain

In the journal “Brain”, researchers explain how music training influences brain development, and it becomes clear that music is good for children’s cognitive development and that music should be part of the pre-school and primary education curriculum.

Brain Development

Neuroscientists at Rotman Research Institute in Toronto have studied brain development in twelve children, ages four to six years. Half of the children attended a music school, which teaches the playing of instruments by ear and imitation. This trains the hearing as well as motor and sensory abilities. The other half received no music lessons. During a year, the researchers measured four times the reactions in the brain. And they completed a general memory and intelligence test at the beginning and end of the year. The result: For all children, the processing speed of the musical notes increased during this time, which shows that the neurons work faster with increasing age.

Also, all showed more reaction to violin tones than to noise, so tones with meaning are processed differently. However, at the end of the year, the music-educated children reacted much more intensively to the violin tones, showing greater improvement in the processing of harmonies.
Other studies have shown that older children with music lessons achieved greater improvements in IQ scores than peers. This means that music lessons not only have an impact on the perception and processing of music, but also affect the processes of processing speech.

Music Connects Both Halves of the Brain

Doctors say music affects all parts of the brain: the brain stem, limbic system and cortex. And in principle it does the same thing as other biologically important stimuli, such as food. This is due to the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine and opioids, which stimulate the body’s reward systems.

Our two brain halves differ in their function, strongly from each other. The right brain is responsible for creativity, music, emotions, intuition, etc., and the left for language, logic, differentiation of facts, and deciphering symbols. The better the brain halves complement and work together, the better the brain works.

When listening to music and making music, many small, remote regions of the brain are activated and networked, so if you’re seeking improved speech, sharper perception, attention and concentration, have teachers integrate classroom music with lesson plans.