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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Music Develops The Child Brain

By Alvin Poh

Music has the ability to train our brain for higher level of thinking - the kind of thinking for problem solving, comparing and contrasting the similarities and difference between objects, analyzing, reaching conclusion, synthesizing, and evaluating information.

In recent research, it was found that music can help in developing human's spatial-temporal reasoning skill. Spatial-temporal reasoning is the ability to perceive the visual world accurately and form mental images of objects. It is the mind ability to see in very detailed images and to recognize, compare and find relationships among the patterns and details on an object. The temporal element involves a child's ability to think ahead.

In learning music, one must be able to play a note, then a series of notes, then a series of chords, and the able to look ahead at the music and determine where and what will be played next.

Many studies and experiments have been conducted to prove the power of the music on our brain. Below are the finding in some recent years research:

Research and Finding 1:

In 1994, Drs Gordon Shaw and Frances Rauscher who are scientists at the University of California at Irvin, conducted an experiment to find out the link between spatial reasoning and music. They divided seventy-nice college students into three groups. Each group was given a cutting and folding task.

The first group was given the opportunity to listen to ten minutes of Mozart's Sonata in D for Two pianos, K. 488. The second group heard ten minutes of minimalist (Philip Glass's Music with Changing Parts) and rhythmically repetitive music (Ian Rich's C-Level Productions mix of Mortal Stomp and Carry Me Through). The third was the control group where the students did not listen to any music piece.

The result was - there was no significant occurrence with the second and third group. However the students in the first group who had listened to the music of Mozart, experienced an increase in their spatial IQ of eight to nine points in just ten minutes! Although the effect was temporary, the scientists believed that a particular organization of the elements in the music caused the improvement in the spatial-temporal reasoning. This phenomenon is now commonly known as the "Mozart Effect".

Research and Finding 2:

After the above experiment which showed that by listening to music, it could caused an increase in spatial-temporal reasoning, scientists began to wondered if the effect can be prolonged by studying a musical instrument.

To find out the result, the scientists conducted a test on thirty-three three-year-old pre-schoolers in Los Angeles. They choose three-year-old children because the cortexes of their brain were still maturing and any effect from music education will be most observed as compared to a matured brain.

The children were divided into two groups. The first group had 19 children who were provided with eight months of keyboard and singing lesson. The remaining 14 children belonged to the control group which did not receive any training. For the first group, their training consisted of weekly ten to fifteen minute private keyboard lesson, daily practice periods and a daily thirty minute singing time.

The children were tested after eight months later. They were required to perform five tasks to test their spatial reasoning:

- arranging pieces of a puzzle to form a complete picture

- matching depicted pattern using flat, two-colored blocks

- placing correct color pegs into holes under a series of pictured animals

- performing a geometric design task

- describing what was "wrong" or "silly" about a picture.

And here were results:

The spatial-temporal reasoning of the children in the control group increase by only 6 percent. However children from the group which received music training showed a great improved in their spatial-temporal reasoning by 46 percent!

Research and Finding 3:

To confirm the results and finding in the above experiment, the scientists conducted another test. This time they took another group of seventy-eight preschoolers and divided into four groups:

- The first group consisted of thirty-four students who were given private daily piano lessons

- The second group consisted of twenty students. The children in this group received ten minutes of private computer training every day.

- The third group had 12 students who received singing training

- The last group were a control group where the children did not attend any form of lesson.

The children were tested after six months later and the results were:

Children in the first group had the most dramatic improvement in spatial-temporal reasoning - an increased by 34 per cent in performance!

Research and Finding 4:

In 1998, the scientists perform another experiment to find out how a computer math game called "Spatial-Temporal Animation Reasoning (STAR) coupled with either piano lessons or English-language training affected students performance in math.

This experiment were conducted over 4 months period and the subjects were 170 second-graders from an elementary school in Los Angeles.

The children were divided into 3 groups:

- Group 1 consisted of children who studied the piano keyboard and the math video game

- Group 2 consisted of children who received English language training and studied the math video game

- Group 3 were the control group which did not receive any training.

After four months, a test were conducted and the results were:

Children in Group 1 and 2 who received training in the computer game showed a 100 percent improvement in their math skills as compared to the control group. Also, the students who received piano keyboard training along with the math video game did 27 percent better on questions related to fractions and proportional math than those who received training in English language and the math video game. And lastly, the teachers of the group also reported that the children who studied piano key boarding demonstrated better attention and concentration abilities!


Article by Alvin Poh, founder of Learning Champ, a parenting wesbite that provides information and resources to parents, who want to help their children develop the important skills and mind set for a brighter future -

Child Development

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