You often hear people say that music lessons make a person more intelligent. Parents often enroll their children in music lessons because they feel that the lessons will help their child to do better in school. Is there anything to this belief or is it just a myth?
The way that an activity such as music lessons can increase a person’s intelligence is because such activities engage both sides of the brain. They are, in essence, whole brain activities. You might be familiar with research into the mind which indicates that the two sides of the brain specialize in slightly different types of things. For example, the left side deals with more linear and logical kinds of thing and also speech while the right side of the brain handles more intuitive and ‘artistic’ kinds of things. This would mean, according to Colin Rose in his Accelerated Learning program, that in listening to a song, the left side of the brain is tracking the words while the right side is registering the melody.
This goes further, however, in music lessons when they are done properly. In learning basic rhythm, for example, a good teacher would have the student say the counts or beats out loud as he played the rhythm. Here, in the same way, both sides of the brain would become involved in this learning activity.
So how does a whole brain activity such as this make a person more intelligent? Well, it’s like having the right tool for the right job. Each side of the brain has its own specialty. People are normally more dominant on one side than on the other. People tend to regard this as normal but run into areas where they have trouble. For instance, a person who is dominant in their right side probably has a difficult time in a class where everything is presented in a highly linear and ‘logical’ step by step fashion. Detail is being required of the person and they are wanting to take intuitive jumps.
On the other hand, take a person who is left side dominant and ask them to start creating their own processes and procedures and this person would become quite agitated and probably have a rough time with it. Now if someone has been educated to be able to use either side of their brain at will, this person will be at a distinct advantage in most situations. One basic understanding to develop about this is that neither side is really better than the other but that both have their roles to play in intelligent interaction with this world.