How Music Can Improve Academic Results?

2year old kid playing piano
Maximus Escouri

Have you ever considered music classes to help your kid get better grades in school?

Many parents know that music is an enjoyable pursuit for their children. But not all parents are aware that music can also improve academic results. 

Numerous studies have shown a correlation between music learning and academic excellence. Music can improve IQ and boost school grades. For example, a study that examined a group of 6-year old children concluded that the children performed better in school after a year of music training. A recent study by the University of British Columbia, also showed that students between grades 7-12 achieve significantly higher grades in science, math and English than non-musical classmates (Guhn et al. 2019). 

Researchers worldwide are saying that it is theoretically plausible that the longer the child is exposed to music, the more their IQ and school grades will improve. Furthermore, researchers are noting that the improved academic results are more significant in children who were learning to play a musical instrument. The results are far higher in musical instrument training (like piano or violin) than any other forms of music training (for example vocal classes).   

How Music Can Improve Your Kid’s Academic Results

Music book

Music training is good for brain development. In early childhood, the brain is still in the developmental stage. Introducing music at this time can substantially boost neurodevelopment. 

Children Who Learn Music Have A Higher IQ

Studies suggest that extended engagement with music instrument learning can improve IQ. Correlational studies report children with musical training have better verbal and mathematical skills. The children also score higher in memory, cognitive flexibility and IQ tests (Fujioka et al 2006; Schellenberg 2006; Patel and Iverson 2007; Hanna-Pladdy and Mackay 2011).

Children Who Play A Musical Instrument Have A Larger Volume Of Grey Matter

Children who learn music develop distinctive neural responses to music and speech. The difference is not just in brain activity but in the volume as well. A study by Schlaug et al (2005) of brain scans on children aged 9-11 years old who play a musical instrument, revealed significantly more grey matter in the sensorimotor cortex and the occipital lobes.  

Children who learn music have better literacy and numeracy skills

A recent study by Tierney et al (2015) further suggests that music training in children can accelerate neurodevelopment. These changes can significantly impact the literacy and numeracy skills in children. 

In summary, music training can improve a wide range of skills including memory, spatial learning, language skills, verbal memory, literacy and verbal intelligence (Chan et al., 1998; Forgeard et al., 2016; George & Coch, 2011; Rausher & Zupan, 2000). 

What is the best age to begin music?

music notes

There is no perfect age to start music.  It depends on your child. Every child is an individual.  Some children start music as young as three years old.  Some start at ten or eleven years old and go on to become polished performers.  Others only take up music as teenagers and derive a great pleasure from it.  

As a rule, a child who is 4 or 5 years old can enrol in formal music lessons. There are some things a parent must consider including the size of your child’s hands, finger independence and interest in learning music. Your child’s hands don’t need to be too large to be able to play a keyboard. However the child must be able to move fingers independently and show a genuine interest or curiosity about music.

Finger Readiness Test

Here is a simple finger readiness test you can try at home.  If your child can use three fingers on three black keys to play ‘Hot Cross Bun’, they are ready to enrol for formal music classes

Can I enrol my two-year old?

2year old kid playing piano

The answer is ‘Yes’.  Toddlers who love music can join a music prep class where music is combined with dance and movement. Children play with guitars and keyboards. It is a fun way to introduce music to pre-schoolers. 

Is it ever too late?

It is never too late to introduce music to your kid. Some 8-year old children do better when learning music for the first time because they are more mature and better prepared.  Even teenagers can start learning a musical instrument (just like adults can!).

An older kid may have less time because of other commitments (like school and sports) Their brains are less flexible than a younger child, but they make it up in endurance, will power and the ability to focus. 

Academic excellence aside, we should not overlook the fact that music education is an incredibly pleasurable experience for children. When kids learn to play a musical instrument, they are laying the groundwork for a lifetime’s appreciation of the Arts and all the satisfaction that it brings.  


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