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

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…

Music as a Language: Victor Wooten at TEDxGabriolaIsland

Victor Wooten is an innovator, composer, arranger, producer, vocalist, and multiinstrumentalist. He has been called the greatest bass player in the world. He is a skilled naturalist and teacher, a published author, a magician, husband and father of four, and a five-time Grammy award winner.

Performance Anxiety Part 1

My husband and I both love disc golf.  It's something that we both started together as beginners together so it became "our" thing to do as a couple.  We eventually got to the point after playing for a few years that I wanted to attempt playing in a disc golf tournament.  He was a bit more hesitant than me but I insisted, arguing that it would be a fun way to really test our skills.

I've written a few posts before about how playing disc golf taught me the value of muscle memory.  But during our first few tournaments we both quickly discovered a whole new category of unexplored skills: performing under pressure.  To be blunt, we both stunk.

As a musician, I was no stranger to performing.  I've lost count of how many solo/orchestra/chamber performances I've done.  Before that first tournament I had assumed that performance anxiety wouldn't affect me because of said experience.  I was just going out there to have fun, right?

Well, I was.  But the thing I had…