Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Principles of Sowing and Reaping for the Suzuki Parent: 5 Steps to Beginning Suzuki Success by Preparing the Soil

Last school year, I started a group of 4-5 year old students in a pre-twinkle cello class. One mother actively ignited her daughter Ella’s interest in the cello before enrolling in the program. Over the course of a few months, she helped Ella prepare to engage in a new learning process. They observed lessons, listened to cello music, talked about the cello, and actively built Ella’s excitement - all before starting lessons.

This experience allowed me to see how much a parent can cultivate their child’s interest, motivation, and readiness. It gave me a new appreciation for the parents’ role in preparing young children for a positive Suzuki experience.

Here are five ways to prepare the soil to help your child succeed in a Suzuki experience.

1. Build Your Knowledge

Parents are integral to the success of the Suzuki process. If you start a young child in a Suzuki program, your role as a parent will be very active. Your knowledge and education about the Suzuki method and philosophy helps y…

The Private Teaching Business Model

Over my years of teaching I've come across a wide variety of interpretations about the private teaching business model.  I feel that this is a natural result of the type of society we live in.  Many services these days are either "subscriptions" or "appointments."  For example, a gym membership is a subscription.  You pay a monthly fee to use the facility at any time during their hours of operation.  A doctor's visit or a haircut is an "appointment."  You call ahead to set up a time, you show up and then pay after the services have concluded.

With most services falling into one of these two categories, most people try to rationalize music lessons as one or the other.  However, music lessons are neither subscriptions or appointments.  They are actually a combination of both if the business entity is going to be successful.

The reasons why this hybrid business model occurs are:

1)  The service itself is centered around personal attention (appointmen…

Martial Arts and Music

I remember a few years ago I was having a conversation with one of my adult students about martial arts and music.  I always looked forward to my conversations with this student because she happened to be a fabulous Montessori teacher and founded what ended up being one of the biggest Montessori schools here in San Diego.  So she was this wealth of knowledge and it was such a privilege for me to be able to "pick her brain" from time to time.

Going back to the conversation, she observed that music and martial arts work really well together because they both required the same type of focus.  I have practiced martial arts for almost ten years so this is an opinion I have had for a long time but it surprised me to hear it coming from someone else.

Both music and martial arts revolve around the idea of a focused body and mind.  Teaching an extremely young student how to keep their instrument in place for one Twinkle is more mental training rather than physical.  Holding a light …