Can Music Instruction Affect Children's Cognitive Development? (page 3)

By — Educational Resource Information Center (U.S. Department of Education)
Updated on Jan 26, 2011


The research suggests that music may act as a catalyst for cognitive abilities in other disciplines, and the relationship between music and spatial-temporal reasoning is particularly compelling. However, several concerns remain unaddressed. Little is known regarding the exact aspects of music instruction that contribute to the transfer effects. Also, further longitudinal studies are needed to determine the duration of these effects. Another concern is that currently available tests of reading and math achievement may not be sufficiently sensitive to the complexity of language and mathematical learning potentially affected by music instruction. Although it appears that parents, educators, and policy makers can now consider enhanced spatial-temporal ability to be a viable outcome of music instruction, the evidence supporting enhanced mathematical or reading ability is equivocal. Finally, although the research has strong implications for policy and practice, care must be taken to ensure that scientific goals do not displace developmentally appropriate music instruction (see, e.g., Music Educators National Conference [1994]).

For More Information

Bilhartz, T. D., Bruhn, R. A., & Olson, J. E. (2000). The effect of early music training on child cognitive development. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 20(4), 615-636.†

Butzlaff, R. (2000). Can music be used to teach reading? Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34(3-4), 167-178.

Costa-Giomi, E. (1999). The effects of three years of piano instruction on children's cognitive development. Journal of Research in Music Education, 47(3), 198-212. EJ 604 142.†

Costa-Giomi, E. (2000). The relationship between absolute pitch and spatial abilities. In C. Woods, G. Luck, R. Brochard, F. Seddon, & J. A. Sloboda (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition. Keele, UK: Keele University, Department of Psychology.

Douglas, S., & Willatts, P. (1994). The relationship between musical ability and literacy skills. Journal of Research in Reading, 17(2), 99-107. EJ 492 757.

Gardiner, M. F., Fox, A., Knowles, F., & Jeffrey, D. (1996). Learning improved by arts training. Nature, 381, 284.

Graziano, A. B., Peterson, M., & Shaw, G. L. (1999). Enhanced learning of proportional math through music training and spatial-temporal training. Neurological Research, 21(2), 139-152.†

Gromko, J. E., & Poorman, A. S. (1998). The effect of music training on preschoolers' spatial-temporal task performance. Journal of Research in Music Education, 46(2), 173-181. EJ 612 202.

Hetland, L. (2000a). Listening to music enhances spatial-temporal reasoning: Evidence for the "Mozart Effect." Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34(3-4), 105-148. EJ 658 281.†

Hetland, L. (2000b). Learning to make music enhances spatial reasoning. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34(3-4), 179-238. EJ 658 284.

Ho, Y., Cheung, M., & Chan, A. S. (2003). Music training improves verbal but not visual memory: Cross-sectional and longitudinal explorations in children. Neuropsychology, 17(3), 439-450.

Husain, G., Thompson, W. F., & Schellenberg, E. G. (2002). Effects of musical tempo and mode on arousal, mood, and spatial abilities. Music Perception, 20(2), 151-171.

McKelvie, P., & Low. J. (2002). Listening to Mozart does not improve children's spatial ability: Final curtains for the Mozart effect. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 20(2), 241-258.

Music Educators National Conference (MENC). (1994). The school music program: A new vision. Reston, VA: Author.

Overy, K. (2002). Dyslexia and music: From timing deficits to music intervention. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Sheffield.†

Rauscher, F. H. (2002). Mozart and the mind: Factual and fictional effects of musical enrichment. In J. Aronson (Ed.), Improving academic achievement: Impact of psychological factors on education (pp. 269-278). New York: Academic Press.

Rauscher, F. H., & LeMieux, M. T. (2003, April). Piano, rhythm, and singing instruction improve different aspects of spatial-temporal reasoning in Head Start children. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, New York.†

Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L., & Ky, K. N. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature, 365, 611.†

Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L., Levine, L. J., Wright, E. L., Dennis, W. R., & Newcomb, R. L. (1997). Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's spatial-temporal reasoning. Neurological Research, 19(1), 1-8.†

Rauscher, F. H., & Zupan, M. (2000). Classroom keyboard instruction improves kindergarten children's spatial-temporal performance: A field experiment. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15(2), 215-228. EJ 633 368.†

Vaughn, K. (2000). Music and mathematics: Modest support for the oft-claimed relationship. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34(3-4), 149-166. EJ 658 282.

View Full Article
Add your own comment
DIY Worksheets
Make puzzles and printables that are educational, personal, and fun!
Matching Lists
Quickly create fun match-up worksheets using your own words.
Word Searches
Use your own word lists to create and print custom word searches.
Crossword Puzzles
Make custom crossword puzzles using your own words and clues.
See all Worksheet Generators