Scientific findings indicate that musical experience improves cognitive abilities such as, reading, symbolic and spatial reasoning, verbal memory, mathematics, self-esteem, and general intelligence. A 2006 study showed a positive correlation between music lessons and IQ in 6-11 year olds, concluding that taking music lessons as a child predicts both academic performance and IQ in young adulthood. (Schellenberg EG. 2006. Journal of Educational Psychology 98(2)).
SAT takers with experience in music performance scored 56 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 39 points higher on the math portion than students with no coursework or experience in the arts. (The College Board, Profile of College-Bound Seniors National Report for 2005).
Musical training improves language development and verbal memory
A Stanford University study showed that mastering a musical instrument improves brain processing in areas associated with language development, and may have implications for improving language/reading skills (Gabrieli, John, http://news-service.stanford.edu, Nov. 2005). Other research demonstrates that children with music training have significantly better verbal memory than those without such training, and the longer the training, the better the verbal memory (Ho, Y.C., Cheung, M.C., & Chan, A. 2003. Neuropsychology, 12).
Practicing a musical instrument increases nonverbal reasoning and fine motor skills
A Harvard-based study found that practicing a musical instrument in childhood is associated with enhanced verbal ability and nonverbal reasoning. Children who receive instrumental music training for three years or more outperform their control counterparts in areas closely related to music: fine motor skills (both hands) and superior discrimination in melodic/tonal and rhythmic discrimination abilities. (Schlaug, G, Norton, A, Overy, K, Winner, E. 2005 Annals NY Acad of Sciences 1060).
Study in the arts develops character
In addition to cognitive skills, study in the arts helps to develop desirable character traits such as discipline, perseverance, resourcefulness, teamwork, appreciation for beauty, patience, self-control, problem solving, and empathy.
This research has been compiled by Community School of the Arts (CSA) at Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.