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Music and intelligence- is there a link?

Children have a natural love for music. They love a good tune with an energetic beat. The visible impact of music on children is amazing. As a powerful stimulant, music can alter your child's mood instantly and create new bonds and memories.

india Updated: Aug 04, 2012 13:32 IST
Music,Kids,Hindustan Times

Children have a natural love for music. They love a good tune with an energetic beat. The visible impact of music on children is amazing. As a powerful stimulant, music can alter your child's mood instantly and create new bonds and memories. We all have our personal stories of using music to calm a colicky baby or playing a favourite lullaby to put a little one to sleep. More practical uses include the role of music on a long car ride, and of course, at parties!

There's no doubt that music is enjoyable and fun, but extensive research has shown that exposing children to music also stimulates their overall intelligence and emotional development. Increasingly enough, more attention is being drawn to the role of music in society and how it influences our children. Here are some insights on the subject from Sonam, Founder, Mozartsy, an innovative workshop focusing specifically at exploring musical instruments with children at an early stage."Music is an inextricable part of our lives, starting from early childhood and lasting a lifetime. As parents, we have all seen the impact of music on our children. Every time a favourite song is played on the car radio, my 2yr old claps her hands and hums to the beat from the back of the car. And if I start singing along, she giggles and tries to sing louder and we end up singing and laughing, long after the song is over," recalls Sonam. "We also need to understand how deep rooted music is in our everyday culture. Can you just imagine what your child's life would be like without ever having heard Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star or Itsy Bitsy Spider. In recent years, we have also seen positive proof that listening to music makes smarter adults of the future."

Recent data from the University of Texas indicated that those students who received an arts education that included music received higher SAT scores. Science Daily quotes a 2006 study undertaken by Canadian researchers, that not only do the brains of musically-trained children respond to music in a different way to those of the untrained children, but also that the training improves their memory as well. After one year the musically trained children performed better in a memory test that is correlated with general intelligence skills such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics and IQ. Many studies have shown that music can benefit cognitive abilities, particularly spatial abilities, higher reasoning and motor skills, and higher achievements in language and math. And, there's been a lot of media coverage in recent years about the Mozart Effect: the effect that passive listening to the music of certain classical composers has on a child's intelligence.

Music has also been shown to increase other measures of overall intelligence by shaping the types of attitudes, interests and discipline within children. Many types of music can be inspiring and incredibly motivational, thereby helping children focus and improve their listening skills. Music can give children the self-confidence and self-esteem they need to succeed in many academic areas or in defining personality traits as they grow older.

"Many researchers believe that the earlier a child is exposed to music, the more the brain responds to different music tones. We know that children are easily able to imitate musical phrases and songs. As toddlers, they love to bang on pots and pans, searching for that certain beat that they play over and over again - it's their way of expressing their feelings and emotions. As they get older, they sing, improvise, move and dance and are often introduced to instruments and formal music instruction. Having children listen to different types of music also nurtures their self-esteem while encouraging creativity, self-confidence and curiosity, explains Sonam.

Responding to positive data on the connection between brain development and music, the marketplace has been flooded with innovative toys, videos, and a wide range of baby equipment that play popular nursery rhymes or classical music in recent years. Of course, there is no guarantee that music will ensure future academic success. But that is the best part about music - it can't hurt and at the very least there's the appreciation of the art form itself, something that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. As Sonam sums it up, "Music is the best gift a parent can give to their child."

First Published: Jul 26, 2012 19:03 IST