Preschool Children: Music and the Brain Part 2

Some of the benefits of music instruction for preschool children

There is no better training for a child than music.  And the earlier you start, the more powerful this type of education is.

Increase in IQ

A study to determine if music lessons enhance IQ by Schellenberg, the University of Toronto (2004), focused on children who were no older than six “because plasticity declines in older children.”  “Absolute (perfect) pitch is evident primarily among individuals who begin taking music lessons before the age of 7.”  For his study, Schellenberg tested children after a year of music lessons and found increases in children’s IQ, a result not replicated by non-musical activities.

In 2006, Schellenberg  wanted to find out if lessons lasting longer than a year would have an even greater impact on raising IQ.  Participants in this study reported taking music lessons beyond the one year.  Children ages 6-11 “each additional month of music lessons was accompanied by an increase in IQ of one-sixth of a point, such that six years of lessons was associated with an increase in IQ of 7.5 points, compared with children who did not have the same amount of musical instruction.”

In 2012, a study by Kaviani et al, showed that preschool children who took  music lessons had a significant increase in IQ compared to the children who did not take lessons.

Reading and language skills

Bolduc found that children who got  high scores on musical aptitude tests could also get superior results in phonological awareness and word recognition.  He focused on music education and kindergartners’ pre-reading skills (phonological awareness).  Preschool children in the experimental music training program had an improvement, particularly in the syllable identification tasks and the rhyme and phoneme identification tasks compared to the control group.


Absolute (Perfect) Pitch

Absolute or perfect pitch is a rare ability; less than 0.01% of the general population claim they made no special efforts to attain AP. And yet,  Grebelnik found that preschool children could be taught to develop true absolute pitch. As Takeuchi & Hulse  (1993) found, children can easily acquire this ability of absolute pitch around the ages of three to five.

Adult Second Language Acquisition

Petitto studied the impact of extensive music education in childhood on learning a second language in adulthood.  Her study included musicians who received early extensive and continued music education.  She found that these musicians exhibited significantly increased second language performance  compared to non-musicians.



Music and the Brain Part 1

Fireworks go off in musicians’ brains when they play an instrument.  Below is an animated explanation ( of how many areas of the brain are impacted by learning to play a musical instrument. Video created by Anita Collins and Sharon Colman Graham.


Infographic of the Benefits of Music Education

This Infographic from the Royal Conservatory (Canada) is a clear visual of the benefits of music education for:  cognitive development, speech and reading, and academic success.


the benefits of music ed infograph

Click here for the high resolution Pdf file of the Infograph



Make sure young brains get the benefit of music training.

Could playing the violin help children become skillful readers? Nina Kraus, PhD,  conducting a study in California, has shown that music instruction helps students become more proficient readers. She found that playing a musical instrument transforms the nervous system, making a child a better learner. Her research indicates that early sustained music learning aids the child in learning in school.  Source 

The following PBS video  illustrates the significant impact on cognitive development, especially in the area of language skills, of children who study a musical instrument.   Learning how to practice and concentrate may also influence focus skills for academics. At the 3 minute mark, the video begins to explain the relationship between sound and reading, between playing an instrument and language development.