Long-term Benefits of Music Study

There are direct correlations between musical training and increased language, reasoning, spatial intelligence, creativity, and problem solving, among other benefits. These are fundamental skills that children take into adulthood and into their workplace, families, and community.

Benefits social development

In addition to cognitive skills, study in the arts also helps to develop desirable character traits such as discipline, perseverance, teamwork, and empathy.  

Increases IQ

There is a positive correlation between music lessons and IQ in 6-11 year olds. Taking music lessons as a child predicts both academic performance and IQ in young adulthood. (Schellenberg EG. 2006. Journal of Educational Psychology 98(2)).

Enhances 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).

Music study improves language development

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).


It has been suggested that music students may develop enhanced intelligence and learning abilities because they are trained to:

• Recognize melodic and rhythmic patterns

• Listen critically and imitate — thereby improving general aural skills

• Develop high concentration, resulting in increased ability to focus

• Translate musical notation into precise fine motor patterns

• Decode an intricate system of melodic and rhythmic symbols

• Memorize complex passages

• Analyze form and structure in the music

Raises SAT scores

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).


This research has been compiled by Community School of the Arts (CSA) at Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.