Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Music education in school raises IQ

More proof that arts education is a necessity! This Wall Street Journal article provides evidence from several studies that music education increases students IQs more than other activities. Here’s a taste:

“In a 2009 study in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers used an MRI to study the brains of 31 6-year-old children, before and after they took lessons on musical instrument for 15 months. They found that the music students’ brains grew larger in the areas that control fine motor skills and hearing—and that students’ abilities in both those areas also improved. The corpus callosum, which connects the left and right sides of the brain, grew as well.”

“Last year, the German Institute for Economic Research compared music training with sports, theater and dance in a study of 17-year-olds. The research, based on a survey of more than 3,000 teens, found that those who had taken music lessons outside school scored significantly higher in terms of cognitive skills, had better grades and were more conscientious and ambitious than their peers. The impact of music was more than twice that of the other activities—and held true regardless of the students’ socioeconomic background.”

The article contends that not only will music education help children develop a well-rounded mind but it is also a cost-efficient approach to fixing the academic disparity between wealthy and poverty stricken school districts.


Based on personal experience, I agree music education is invaluable. Not only does it help the individual hone creativity, connect to culture, and (allegedly) increase IQ, it also helps develop diligence and patience. With these wonderful benefits, I think it is important  to remember that art/music education is more than a means to an end. Art can be inspiriting for a young mind and this alone is enough reason to give arts education programs importance.

What was your arts/music education like? Did you guys find it helped boost your academic performance?


4 comments on “Music education in school raises IQ

  1. gormleykimberly
    October 13, 2014

    Growing up, I attended an arts based elementary school where music, dance, and visual arts lessons were free and required, and theater was strongly encouraged. My middle and high schools both had entire buildings devoted to the arts as well, and I took at advantage of the free lessons every semester I was in school. I went to public school for k-12, and have always taken my art education for granted. I get pretty annoyed whenever I hear people say they “can’t” make art. For me, it was a required course, just like math or science that I had to pass to graduate.

    I realize now how fortunate I was to have the arts so easily accessible and normalized in my school, and that others may not have had the same experience I did. I do still believe that anyone can master the arts if they put the time and effort into the skill. If schools devoted as much time to art as they do to math, we’d all be modern day Renaissance Men (and women)! Based on this article and other research I have read, I think schools would be wise to renew their devotion to the arts in general.

  2. cayleycarroll
    October 14, 2014

    Agreed! And if they don’t have the time or means to master an art they can still enjoy and grow from it. 🙂

  3. torisharbaugh
    October 17, 2014

    I really appreciate studies like this because I think these defined results can resonate more with people. If individuals are able to see a measurable answer, it is easier to digest and the effectiveness of the subject (in this case, arts education) becomes more believable.

    I was fortunate enough to grow up in a fantastic school system with lots of resources, so programs like arts and sports were never in worry of being cut. Although my high school was not arts focused, the music and theater program was a huge deal. I was a part of the choral program all four years and I was always astounded at the diversity of the students involved. The choral program, because of its prestige, was able to attract science students, football players, you name it. There was one year that our musical starred the leading basketball player. In any other situation I can imagine, the sports and arts kids never cross paths. The arts were so important to my high school that students from all different areas, even sports, were involved.

    However, part of the crossover involvement came from my school stressing the importance of involvement, which had its perks and downfalls. Each students was a part of at least two clubs, interned for a variety of organizations, and participated in a wide array of extracurricular activities. I still wonder whether the crossover involvement was because students thought, “Well colleges are really going to want to see that I am involved in a lot of activities, so I’ll step out of my comfort zone and participate in the arts”. My high school was so competitive about colleges and academic achievement, we even had a book written about us (It’s called The Overachievers, if anyone is interested. It’s actually a really fun read). Ultimately though, the students in my school were always doing extremely well academically, and I like to think some of it has to do with the importance of the arts programs. Obviously there is not proof of this, but my choral and theater directors taught a way of thinking that cannot taught in a textbook.

    Regardless, the emphasis on heavy involvement got students participating in the music and theater programs and I know they positively affected a lot of unexpected people. People yearn to be a part of something excellent, and that is what my programs were able to provide. I think we need to focus on provided excellent arts education, not just the existence of it.

  4. jaredchamoff
    October 17, 2014

    I love this article. I might print it and frame it! There are so many great stats on here!

    The idea of music helping to close the gap between the rich and poor is something I have certainly seen. There is a school district close to where I went to school that is considered to be in a poorer area. However, they have a thriving music program, churning out tons of music student, many of whom go to All-State and also continue with music in college. At least ten of the people I worked with this summer (at a music camp) were products of this district’s music program. Nearly all of them are on the music ed track! From my talks with them, most of them credit their musical drive and success in their public school’s music program!

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