take heart. If weekly music lessons
show no sign of turning your
kid into a young Leonard Bernstein,
They could be stoking the talents
of a future Marie Curie or Galileo.
Just 15 minutes a week of private keyboard instruction,
along with group singing at pre-school, dramatically improved a kind
of intelligence needed for high-level math and science, suggests a
Music lessons appear to strengthen the links between
brain neurons and build new spatial reasoning, says psychologist Frances
Rauscher of University of California-Irvine.
"Music instruction can improve a child's spatial
intelligence for long periods of time - perhaps permanently, " Rauscher
told the American Psychological Association meeting here.
Her study compared 19 pre-schoolers who took the lessons
and 14 classmates enrolled in no special music programs. After eight
months, she found:
- A 46% boost in spatial IQ's for the young
- 6% improvement for children not taught music.
"If parents can't afford lessons, they should at
least buy a musical keyboard.... or sing regularly with their kids
and involve them in musical activities," Rauscher says.
She's next going to test grade-schoolers. "If we
can show it enhances spatial IQ in primary kids, this is a very powerful
method to assure that every child reaches his or her potential in math
and science," Rauscher says.