Non-musical Cognitive Benefits of Brief Preschool Music Enrichment

modified 2018-10-11

Non-musical Cognitive Benefits of Brief Preschool Music Enrichment

In short:

Paper trying to refute that music classes in preschool have non-musical benefits to other tasks


They found that there was no improvement

Questions raised:

Tiny sample size, 6 week study length, of course they did not find anything. Had they found something, it would have been completely inconclusive surely! I doubt any proponent of musical education would claim to increase IQ after 6 weeks of class, they are studying a straw man.

Insights, lessons learnt:

Very little.


“We conducted two RCTs with preschool children investigating the cognitive effects of a brief series of music classes, as compared to a similar but non-musical form of arts instruction (visual arts classes, Experiment 1) or to a no-treatment control (Experiment 2). Consistent with typical preschool arts enrichment programs, parents attended classes with their children, participating in a variety of developmentally appropriate arts activities. After six weeks of class, we assessed children’s skills in four distinct cognitive areas in which older arts-trained students have been reported to excel: spatial-navigational reasoning, visual form analysis, numerical discrimination, and receptive vocabulary.”

“We initially found that children from the music class showed greater spatial-navigational ability than did children from the visual arts class, while children from the visual arts class showed greater visual form analysis ability than children from the music class (Experiment 1). However, a partial replication attempt comparing music training to a no-treatment control failed to confirm these findings (Experiment 2)”