The Science

(Scroll down for links to research)

The fact that music learning boosts child development has been studied since the 1970s – for over 40 years now! 

But it is only since the recent developments in brain research technology that we have been able to see why music learning helps children succeed in school and in life: it’s because music study engages practically all of the areas of the brain.

It’s like a software upgrade for the brain.

Music learning has scientifically proven benefits for all ages – scientists even recommend it to old-age pensioners to preserve their brain functioning. But if you have a baby or small child, the study of music offers the biggest opportunity. Between the ages of 0-7, the brain networks are at their fast development phase. This gives you a unique opportunity to boost your child’s brain and help your child be the best they can be. 

There are many ways to learn music – even for babies and toddlers. Musical skills such as rhythm, melody and notation are shown to enhance your child’s intelligence and reading skills and they can be taught to the smallest of children through methods such as Kodaly and Suzuki. And now, with the Moosicology Package, your child can learn the crucial music skills at home, through entertainment!

For more information, we have gathered some key pieces of research below.

For a comprehensive look at the incredible scientifically proven effects of music learning for your child (1000+ studies and counting), read Moosicology Founder Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay’s book The Music Miracle: The Scientific Secret to Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential.


“Never before have I seen such a comprehensive and in-depth review of the 
neuroscientific and psychological basis of the effects of music on young 
children. Parents and many others will be anxious to read it because of its 
very important message. Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay has blazed an important and 
pioneering trail for others to follow, and I wish this book every success.” 

Professor of Education, Psychologist FBPsS David J. Hargreaves, University of Roehampton 

“I am pleased to commend this is a very positive contribution to the public awareness of the power of music to transform children’s lives. Every child is musical. By encouraging their children to make the most of their innate musical potential, parents can support much wider cognitive, emotional and social development as their children grow. Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay’s narrative is engaging and full of rich personal anecdote, as well as a synthesis of key research findings and useful examples for parents of how music can be used successfully to nurture and strengthen children’s development.” 

Professor Graham Welch, Institute of Education, University of London 

“Henriksson-Macaulay’s book bursts with enthusiasm and a fantastic array of knowledge and suggested approaches for fostering the musical development of children. Her commitment to this cause never flounders. I applaud her.” 

Lucy Green, Professor of Music Education, University of London


Some key research on music and children:

Early music learning restructures the brain

Schlaug et al: “Increased corpus callosum size in musicians”, 1995. Key findings: music learning before the age of 7 boosts the connections between the two sides of the brain. This is likely to be one of the reasons behind why music learning makes children more intelligent and creative.

See also: Schlaug 2004: “Brain structures differ between musicians and non-musicians”

Key findings: music learning indeed changes the brain structure, makes the connections between the brain parts grow. All of these effects were more pronounced on people who have started music learning before the age of 7.

See also Hyde et al 2009: “Musical training shapes structural brain development”: “Here, for the first time, we demonstrate structural brain changes after only 15 months of musical training in early childhood”

Early music learning increases IQ

Schellenberg, 2004: “Music lessons enhance IQ”

Schellenberg, 2006: “Long-term positive associations between music lessons and IQ”

Schellenberg, Moreno, Bialystok, Barac, Cepeda and Chau, 2011: “Short-Term Music Training Enhances Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function” 

(In this study, the preschoolers trained in music for only 20 days and they learned music without instrument learning; therefore this study shows that music learning alone, not just the learning of instrument, produces the IQ increase. The comparison group here learned visual arts and did not get the IQ increase.)

Early music learning boosts reading skills

Anvari, Trainor, Woodside & Levy, 2002: “Relations among musical skills, phonological processing, and early reading ability in preschool children”

Key findings: “We examined the relations among phonological awareness, music perception skills, and early reading skills in a population of 100 4-and 5-year-old children. Music skills were found to correlate significantly with both phonological awareness and reading development.”

Corrigall & Trainor, 2011: “Associations between length of music training and reading skills in children”

Key findings: They studied children aged 6-9 and found that the longer the child had studied music, the better their reading skills were; even when accounting for differences in IQ (shows that IQ & reading skills are separate skills and music learning enhances both)

Moreno, Friesen & Bialystok, 2011: “Effect of music training on promoting preliteracy skills”. Key points: evidence for causality: music learning improves reading.

Schön et al, 2010: “Similar cerebral networks in language, music and song perception”. Key findings: Music processing and language processing share the same brain networks, therefore providing evidence why music skills transfer to language skills.

Early music learning improves mathematical skills

Gardiner, Fox, Knowles & Jeffrey, 1996: “Learning improved by arts training”.

Key findings: First study to show that music improves maths skills of children – although this study used visual arts as well as music in the intervention. So it was for further studies to show that music learning was what made the difference, not general arts. Many of these studies are summarized in Hallam, 2010: “The power of music: Its impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of young people”

For example: Harris, 2007: “Differences in Mathematics Scores Between Students Who Receive Traditional Montessori Instruction and Students Who Receive Music Enriched Montessori Instruction”

Key findings: Montessori students do better at national maths tests than students from other schools but Montessori students who had music instruction did better still!

Early music learning boosts emotional intelligence

Strait et al, 2009: “Musical experience and neural efficiency – effects of training on subcortical processing of vocal expressions of emotion” and “Musical experience promotes subcortical efficiency in processing emotional vocal sounds”. Key findings: Music training helps recognize different types of emotion in people’s speech. Also: Subjects who began training before age of 7 demonstrated better ability to hear pitch and timbre.

Music learning boosts children’s social skills and life skills

Welch, Himonides, Saunders, Papageorgi, Vraka & Preti, 2009: “Researching the second year of the National Singing Programme in England: An ongoing impact evaluation of children’s singing behaviour and identity” and “Singing behaviour and development in English Primary schools: An impact analysis – evidence from the 2nd year of the National Singing Programme in England”. Key findings: Children who had relatively better musical skills and were better musically developed, are statistically more likely to be socially included! Social inclusion in turn boosts emotional well-being.

Hendon & Bohon, 2007: “Hospitalized children’s mood differences during play and music therapy”. Key findings: “The results showed that that music therapy led to significantly more smiles per 3 min among children in the hospital than did play therapy. On average, there were approximately twice as many smiles per 3 min in the music group, than the play group.”

Winsler, Ducenne & Koury, 2011: “Singing One’s Way to Self-Regulation: The Role of Early Music and Movement Curricula and Private Speech”. Key findings: Toddlers and children who studied music had better emotional control, well-being and patience when waiting.

Early rhythm learning boosts intelligence

Ullén et al, 2008: “Intelligence and Variability in a Simple Timing Task Share Neural Substrates in the Prefrontal White Matter”; Madison et al, 2009: “Correlations between intelligence and components of serial timing variability” and Holm, Madison & Ullén, 2011: “Intelligence and temporal accuracy of behaviour: unique and shared associations with reaction time and motor timing”.

Key findings: Rhythm skills correlate with intelligence. “Intelligence is associated with accuracy in a wide range of timing tasks.”

Yunxial, 2010: “Research on the effect of rhythm training on children’s intelligence”:

Key findings: 60 children aged 4-4,5 years were given rhythmic training for 5 months; compared to the control group of the same size. “The main conclusions: rhythm exercises can contribute to all aspects of intellectual factors in early childhood development, especially for young children’s greater impact on operational capability.”

Brodsky & Sulkin, 2011: “Handclapping songs: a spontaneous platform for child development among 5-10 year old children”: “The study found that: (1) children who were more skillful at performing handclapping songs were more efficient First Graders; (2) Second Graders who spontaneously engage in handclapping songs were advantaged in bimanual coupling patterns, verbal memory and handwriting; and (3) classroom handclapping songs training was more efficient than music appreciation classes in developing non-music skills among Second and Third Graders.”