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Does Instrumental Music Make You Smart?

The following is from an article written by Joel Arehammer

Do smart people join band/orchestra or is it that band/orchestra makes you smarter? Recent studies have shown that playing a musical instrument can increase your intelligence, but, according to assistant band director Steven L. Reed of the St. Joseph school system, or society is not utilizing this information.

The theory of bi-lateralism states that the brain is made up of a logical half and an artistic half. When one side of the brain is not fed as much as the other, the whole brain does not develop as well. In other words, if a person does not develop artistic qualities, such as playing an instrument, his logical abilities and intelligence may also suffer.

According to Mr. Reed, where a math course exercises the logical half and a creative writing course exercises the creative half, playing in the band or orchestra exercises both halves of the brain.

"Knowing note fingerings, rhythms, key signatures, etc., help develop the logical half, while dynamics, phrasing, and tempo develop the artistic side.

Dr. Frank Wilson, a well-known neurologist, feels that increased intelligence helped by playing a musical instrument is based on the fact that about 80-90% of the brain's motor capabilities is devoted to the hands, mouth, and throat and by developing refined control in these areas, a child is using almost all of his brain.

These ideas are being tested in Japan, one of the fastest growing high-tech nations in the world, where every school child is required to play a musical instrument between the fourth and ninth grades. At the same time in Albuquerque, New Mexico, comprehensive skill tests on fifth graders have shown that in all areas of the test, children who were learning to play an instrument received higher marks than other classmates. The longer the children had participated in instrumental programs, the higher they scored.

Dr. Frank Wilson's presentation at the Mid-West Conference is titled "Tone Deaf and all Thumbs".

Related Links:

Music Enhances Intelegences-The APA Reseach Paper
Music and Science information computer archive
Music and Brain Information Database (MBI)