Music boosts your child's IQ

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STUDYING music may increase a child's IQ. Music lessons have previously been linked with improvements in mathematical or spatial skills, perhaps because music trains children to organize information into patterns. But a new study claims to have found an increase in the more general measure, IQ, that cannot be explained by pattern learning.

Glenn Schellenberg, a psychologist from the University of Toronto at Mississauga, randomly assigned 144 6-year-olds to four groups. Over nine months the groups took either keyboard, voice or drama lessons at the prestigious Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. The control group had no extra-curricular training. IQ was measured with standard tests before and after training. The effect was small, with a rise of just 7 IQ points for the keyboard and voice groups, compared with 4 in the drama and control groups.

Ken Steele of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina says the effect is likely to be transient. "Targeted experiences may initially move you slightly ahead of peers," he says, "but your peers will eventually have similar experiences and catch up."

But Schellenberg says his other studies suggest that the effect lasts for at least five years. What's more, he says, "music has to be a good way to get them away from the TV."

from the New Scientist e-zine