Researchers and performers alike have debated whether or not music causes individuals to develop a greater intellectual capacity. Some abilities like focusing and multitasking may very well be influenced by music education.

Because of the increased use of the auditory and motorary sectors of the brain, music training can enhance an individual’s ability to stay deeply focused while enhancing mental dexterity when switching tasks. Scientists are still unsure whether the same skills that help with math learning are attained through music playing or whether these skills are just natural talent

Music has always been an outlet for creative expression. But for some, it may also play an important role in educational development. New studies indicate that music training plays a vital role in developing overall cognitive ability. While the studies have not reached a conclusion, they have proven that those with musical talents also hold increased cognitive abilities. Although there are still some correlation issues with the studies, researchers may very well be approaching a revelation.

Scientists and researchers have debated whether music training helps individuals develop better arithmetic skills. There are an array of aspects within music that can be interpreted mathematically. Naomi Eide of Livescience cites University of Maryland Psychology professor investigates the correlation. Neuroscientists Nadine Gabb says, “Musicians are particularly good at switching tasks quickly and switching rules quickly” But, although performers can understand mathematical intervals and time measurements in music, this doesn’t indicate they will be a genius at math. Dr. Robert Slevc instead explains that correlation does not imply causation. Instead, it can simply mean that “smart people are good at [performing many things].”

Nevertheless, other studies show that music education can indeed play a major role in developing other cognitive skills, such as literacy and arithmetic. Some schools like Cascade and Monticello Middle Schools in Washington State have taken these studies to heart, putting them into practice with students in their school.

Erik Edmundson, a music teacher at Cascade, takes the opportunity to use music to teach critical thinking, problem solving, and arithmetic skills. Edmundson also uses his music lessons to familiarize kids with standardized test language and questions by diving deep into the role of a music educator. He asks students to read a piece of music and answer questions by guiding discussion using language from Common Core state standards. In one instance, he successfully taught students who struggle with notation to understand symbols and sequences applicable to math and literacy. The music makes the students feel hopeful.

Music is becoming an important area for developing cognitive abilities in children. This is something music educators see everyday, and it’s inspiring to see schools across the country put it in practice in their curriculum. If you liked this post, and would like to read more on education, follow me on Twitter @JMScheibe. Thanks for reading.