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Why does learning music develop intelligence?

I'd like to continue the idea of exploring "intelligence."  As discussed in an earlier post, intelligence is the ability to perceive information, retain it and then later apply that information to a different situation.  There are lots of reasons why music benefits children and I am not going to pretend that I am a cognitive development expert.  I am going to explore the question posed in the title of this post from the point of view of a music teacher and nothing else.

Given the fact that intelligence centers on the application of knowledge, I think the best lesson taught by music is intense problem solving from an early age.  Consider all of the trials and errors a young student must process just to play a Twinkle.  If an odd sound happens during the piece, there are a dozen reasons why it could have occurred that the student must narrow down with lightning speed.  Was the wrong string hit?  Was the wrong finger placed?  Where was the bow?  Was the bow pressing too hard?  Too soft?  Is the wrong part of the piece being played?

And that's just to play a Twinkle!  Once the student graduates to more complex pieces, the problem solving increases exponentially.  To play a piece well with musical expression demands an awareness of self that is beyond the student's years.  Very few other areas of study place this kind of demand on a young person.

While the demands of learning a musical instrument are extremely challenging, the rewards are huge.  Consider again how much knowledge and problem solving goes into playing a Twinkle.  Now consider how simple figuring out a math problem would be by comparison.  Yes, the math is still tricky because it's new.  But the process, the intelligence, is already there.

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