Work done by Schellenberg (2004) revealed that music lessons were in fact beneficial to enhancing a group of 6-year olds IQ. Schellenberg’ study revealed that over the course of 36 weeks, voice and keyboard lessons were more successful in increase in student’s IQ as compared to drama and no lessons. The present study proposes to extend the work further and test two separate age groups as opposed to one group (6-year olds) to see how age might affect the way music increases the IQ. In addition to comparing the two age groups another time frame will be tested, eight groups of 6 and 10-year olds will be tested for 18 and 36 week periods in order to see if more significant results will come from an older age group over a shorter amount of time.
Different research studies all over the world have identified the needs by parents to enhance the Intelligence quotient (IQ) of their children. In some research studies of pregnant mothers, it has also been noticed that, some pregnant mothers have put headphones in their tummies for their unborn children to listen to them since recent theories have brought up suggestions that link inter-utero listening to Mozart amongst others can increase the Intelligence Quotient of the children. In addition to the daily routine jobs that parents perform in the homes, they have additional responsibilities of making the big decisions about the things they consider best for their children. It is the dream of every parent to ensure that their children are happy, well adjusted, and live up to their potential and even beyond to the parents’ expectations.
Choosing the extracurricular activities for the children is one of those responsibilities that the parents perform for their children. There are varied extracurricular activities ranging from swimming, dancing, drama, martial arts, a multitude of team sports, scouts, chess clubs, gymnastics, and mandarin class alongside a list of other activities unique to every child and parent based on regional cultural differences. The most researched extracurricular activity, which has been intentionally omitted in the above list, is music. Parents are today looking to music to help develop and enhance the intelligence quotient of their children. However, while weighing the options to the extracurricular activities, parents need to consider the child’s eagerness to participate in the extracurricular activity, the time involved in the activity, and the potential benefits that the activity could bring to the child.
It is not easy to nail down all the benefits of musical training. However, the benefits of musical training in making people smarter is one of the resounding benefits that educators, parents and learners have identified and utilized. Even though it has been considered a basic assumption that musical training enhances the intelligence quotient, several studies on the same have proved that those who study music are generally smarter than those who do not study music. The causation of music and high intelligence quotient has however been counter argued as bidirectional – some people believe that music enhances intelligence quotient and others argue that smarter people like to take and stick with music lessons (Steele, 2005).
Glen Schellenberg in his study titled “Music Lessons Enhance IQ,” created a study in which he sought to establish whether or not music lessons helped in enhancing the intelligence quotient of the children. Particularly, he intended to ascertain if music lessons have benefits that extended to the non musical areas of cognition in the learners. In these benefits, which he called the transfer benefits, Schellenberg questioned whether they occurred in children who take music lessons because their experiences differ substantially from other non musical children. The experiences studied in this research included substantial practice, long periods of focused attention, reading music notations, progressive mastery of technical skills and conventions governing musical performance, and memorization of pieces of music (p. 511).
Most affluent and educated parents are more than willing to ensure that their children experience taking music lessons. These parents have emulated the results of different research studies, which have found that music lessons increase the general intelligence, musical aptitude, verbal memory, reading ability, spatial ability, and mathematics achievement. These factors coupled together ensure that parents make the right decision in choosing the extracurricular activities that they are sure would work best to develop the intelligence of their children. Nevertheless, in order to identify the causation between music lessons and enhancement of the intelligence quotient, it is very important to rule out the factors such as socioeconomic status, prior intelligence quotient, and education. In Schellenberg experiment, the randomly selected sample of 132 six-year-olds, the children that took music lessons, depicted a higher intelligence quotient compared to those children who took other disciplines or those who did not take any lessons at all.
In opposing researches on the impact of musical education on the enhancement of the intelligence quotient in children, researchers indicate that there are other factors that might lead to the enhancement of intelligence quotient in children and their choice of music lesson. In these research studies, it is assumed that factors such as socioeconomic status and education influence the students’ intelligence quotient. Children from families that are higher on the social ladder usually have higher intelligence quotients since their parents are educated and affluent, thereby helping them in choosing the best extracurricular activities, which work to enhance their intelligence quotient (New Scientist, 2004). These studies also indicate that prior intelligence quotient has been associated with students choosing music lessons and sticking to them (Chamorro-Premuzic, & Furnham, 2007). Therefore, in this case, the researches infer that learners with higher intelligence quotients usually choose music and not that music enhances their intelligence quotient.
In 2009, a group of scientists in Boston published a study similar to that conducted by Glen Schellenberg. In their study, the researchers only used two groupings of the participants. One of the groups was offered 15 months keyboard lessons and the other group did not receive any lessons. The researchers conducted a behavioral and intelligence quotient test on the children before and after the training. In this study, the researchers identified that keyboard lessons enhanced the performance on finger fine-motor task and melodic and rhythm discrimination (Hyde, Lerch, Norton, Forgeard, Winner, Evans, Schlaug, 2009). Nevertheless, this research study did not find significant differences in the intelligence quotient of both groups of children used in the study. However, critics argue that this research study used a limited number of participants (31 against 144 used by Glen Schellenberg study), and could not yield the desired results. Nevertheless, when an MRI brain scan was performed on the children before and after the 15 months training, the researchers identified that musical lessons caused structural changes in the brains of the children. Some of the structural changes identified include growth in the corpus callosum, which is responsible for connecting the two sides of the brain; the right primary auditory cortex, which controls the processing of information; the right motor cortex, which controls the left hand; and the right and left frontal cortex, which processes harmony and tonality.
This research study placed and advert on the local daily newspapers offering free weekly art lessons to children of the ages 6 years and 10 years old. The recruitment in this research study was limited to children whose birthday fell between January and October. We intended to begin the lessons in September and the applicants were requested to submit their applications only if they were sure they would be available for the 18 and 36 weeks training for the 6 years and 10 year-olds respectively. Even though this research study intended to emulate the prior research studies on the same phenomenon, the ages were selected in different categories to ensure that the differences in ages are assessed in relation to music lessons. The six-year-olds were selected because music and drama instructions are usually used for children of these ages because they are considered formally matured for lessons. For instance, Takeuchi and Hulse indicated that absolute pitch is evident primarily among children who began their music lessons at the age of seven years (1993).
We conducted interviews on the families from which the children applied. The interviews were done in two phases. The first phase of the interview was done over the phone to ascertain consent, and later a follow up to the homes was done to ensure that the children were willing to participate in the exercise, and that they had a keyboard with at least four octaves of full-sized keys. The sample size selected in this case was randomly selected from the applicants, and after reviewing their applications and conducting the interviews, a sample size of 160 was selected. The participants were divided into two groups. One group received keyboard lessons while the other half did not receive any lessons. There were 80 six-year-olds and an equal number of ten-year-old participants.
Measures and Procedures
The lessons were taught differently among the participants for 18 and 36 weeks among the six and eight-year-olds respectively at a local music school. In each lesson group including the drama, voice and keyboard, there were two different instructions taught in a class of six children. The instructors used in this research study were professional music and drama teachers with the highest level qualifications in music, speech and drama certification. The methods used for measurement in this research study included the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III), the Kaufman Test of educational Attainment (K-TEA) and the Parent Rating Scale of the Behavioral Assessment System for Children. These tests were administered prior to the commencement of the training program and after the completion of the program for every age set.
The outcome measures for the K-TEA included mathematical Applications, Spelling, Reading Decoding, Mathematical Computation, and Reading Comprehension. The Parent Rating Scale of BASC measured adaptive and maladaptive social functioning. The maladaptive social functioning included Anxiety, Aggression, Depression, Attention, and Atypical problems. The adaptive functioning on the other hand included Social Skills, Adaptability, and Leadership. The maladaptive functioning combined to form the behavioral symptoms index while the adaptive functioning formed the adaptive composite score.
The results from the research study indicated that the children that all the four groups of the children in both age categories had significant increase in the intelligence quotient. However, the impact of the lessons in the intelligence quotient of the learners indiacted that, the causation relationship reduced with the increase in age. That is, the children aged six years were highly associated with higher intelligence quotient as compared to the elderly children. The avarage increase in the intelligence quotient of children aged six years was 6.0 while that of the children aged 10 years was 4.0 points. However, even though there were increases in the intelligence quotient in the non musical group, the cahnges were less than those witnessed in the former group. The six-year-old non musical group had ana varage of 3.0 points and their ten-year-old counterparts had an avarage of 2.0 points.
The four musical groups (two groups for every age set) showed that there were larger increases processing speed and freedom from distractibility than in verbal perceptual organization and verbal comprehension. The groups also showed higher increases in the arithmetic and information compared to the other groups in the study. As witnessed in the Schellenberg study, the K-TEA study, this study found out similar results, which indicated that there were no reliable differnces between groups pre to post lessons (Schellenberg, p. 513). However, the BASC showeed that the improvements in social behavior was highly depicted in children who took drama lessons.
The results indicate that all the children across different subjects indicated that there was an increase in the intelligence quotient. However, the increase in the IQ for the children taking music lessons was considerably higher than those children that took other lesson. Additionally, there were varied differences in the increases across different ages of the children. The younger children experienced higher increases in their intelligence quotient. Therefore, the results indicate that all the lessons increase the children’s intelligence quotient. However, music lessons improve much of the IQ in children. Additionally, the research reveals that as children grow, the effect of music on their intelligence quotient as well as other lessons reduce compared to their earlier years. The longer learning durations also depict that longer periods imply that the children grow and their age increases influence their IQ, but in the negative direction as it starts to depreciate after reaching a peak.
Figure: the figure below is borrowed from the previous Schulenburg study and relates to the current study since the results found in the current study are similar to the former.
Schellenberg E. G. (2004) Music lessons enhance IQ. Psychological Science 15(8):511-514
Hyde K. L, Lerch J, Norton A, Forgeard M, Winner E, Evans A. C., Schlaug G. (2009) Musical training shapes structural brain development. Journal of Neuroscience 29(10):3019-3025.
Steele, K. M. (2005). DO MUSIC LESSONS ENHANCE IQ?. Scientific Review Of Mental Health Practice, 4(2), 6-9.
Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Furnham, A. (2007). Personality and music: can traits explain how people use music in everyday life?. British Journal Of Psychology (London, England: 1953), 98(Pt 2), 175-185.
Music studies instrumental in raising children's IQ. (2004). New Scientist, 183(2457), 18.