Piano Lessons Increase Math Skills
From: Los Angles Associated Press
Music lessons coupled with a special computer
program significantly increased the math skills of children at an inner
city elementary school, according to a study.
Learning piano and how to read music helped the
children to recognize rhythmic values, note values – such as an eighth
note being half of a quarter note – and identify letter names – E, G, B,
D, F – from a note’s scale placement, the researchers said.
The computer program included spatial exercises
such as assembling pieces of a puzzle and arranging geometric pieces in
particular orders, according to the report in Monday’s edition of
“The learning of music emphasizes thinking in space
and time,” the report said. “When
children learn rhythm, they are learning ratios, fractions, and
proportions. … With the keyboard, students have a clear visual
representation of auditory space.”
The four-month project was led by University of
California, Irvine, processor Gordon Shaw, whose previous studies have
linked music with above-average skills in spatial concepts found in
mathematics, architecture and engineering.
At the 95th Street school, which ranks
48th on the list of Los Angeles’ 100 poorest-performing
institutions, 136 second graders were divided into several groups, some
receiving piano and nonverbal computer training, and others receiving a
mixture of computer and English-language math instruction.
The students’ test results were compared to a 1997
pilot study in which 102 second-graders in below-average schools in
Orange County were given only computer program and traditional math
The Los Angeles students scored 27 percent higher
than their Orange County counterparts in their ability to understand and
analyze ratios and fractions – concepts usually not introduced until
“That 27 percent increase was just in four months,”
Shaw said Friday. “Continued
music training would continue to boost that.
Kids who could play more sophisticated music would increase their
enhancement in math skills.”
But a Dartmouth College professor who has studied
possible learning benefits from music said he needed to see details of
the study before he would agree with the researchers’ conclusions.
“You have to be careful that the test subjects do
not know what the experiment is designed to show,” said Jamshed Bharucha,
a psychology professor and associate dean at Dartmouth.
“A teacher’s high expectation of students can lead
to those students realizing a higher expectation of themselves.”
And the improved math scores may be related to enhanced self-esteem from the students’ music learning, cautioned another psychology professor specializing in learning factors, Robert A. Bjork of UCLA.
"Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song." Psalms 95:2
"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music." Psalms 98:4