"Music has charms to sooth a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak," according to William Congreve, a seventeenth century English playwright. Now we know for sure that it also has the ability to make us more intelligent.
In a study conducted at the University of Toronto recruited a group of 144 six-year-old children. They were divided into four activities: keyboard lessons, voice lessons, drama lessons, and no lessons. Those in the drama lesson group and those in the no lesson group were considered the controls.
The children were given IQ tests before and after the lessons. As you may have guessed, children in the music groups showed greater increases in their post test IQ scores than the two others. Children in the drama lessons improved in social skills.
This, then, is another good argument to continue music instruction in schools despite tight budgets. There may be other types of stimulation that can increase IQ but they have not yet been tested.
Interestingly, children are not the only ones benefiting from music. Research at Ohio State University has shown that exercise is good for the body but adding music gives a boost to the brain.
Men and women in a cardiac rehabilitation program had undergone bypass surgery or other cardiac procedures. Because these are known to compromise cognitive ability, the researchers added music to the usual exercise routine.
While all the exercisers reported feeling emotionally and mentally better after having worked out, tests showed an improvement in verbal fluency when music was added to the exercise.
The researchers theorize that the music may establish different pathways in the brain, stimulate cognitive ability, and facilitate ways to organize it.
While classical music has been the type of music studied, different varieties of music (to suit every taste) may have the same effect. So when your child turns on their favorite radio station, resist the temptation to tell them to turn it off. Remember, they just may be improving their IQ.