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Is making music good for you or not? Some final insights

Is making music good for you or not? Some final insights
Every time I teach my students whether music training this good or not, and I arrive to this inconclusive conclusion, they seemed disappointed. The main reason is that for the majority of cases, these students are musicians themselves or passionate about music. Therefore, they really hope to see music [as] beneficial for themselves. First of all, let’s look at the results with an unbiased eye. If music was so incredibly powerful in changing your cognitive abilities, perhaps the secret would not need so many investigations because it would have been simply obvious to all. For example, we all know that to do better at school, we need to study. And generally speaking, the more we study, the more we do better.
This is a simple and powerful relationship we all know. Definitely, on the science side, many things remain unanswered. For example, why did some studies find an effect of music training whereas some other did not? Here, perhaps we can attempt at an answer. Let’s take the studies that compare the intelligence of musicians and non-musicians. If any difference exists, it has to be small. Otherwise, the musicians’ advantage would be so obvious that the scientific investigations would be useless. If the advantage exists, and it is small, it is likely that we need to recruit many participants to capture this small effect. This is a simple rule of thumb
when running a study: the smaller the effect we want to measure, the larger the sample of participants we have to recruit. Experimental studies have other kinds of problems, mainly practical and financial. In order to run a proper investigation, scientists will need a fairly good amount of money to pay for the training over a long duration of time and for a sufficiently large group of participants. But in the end, do we really care? Let’s think about it. Music is such a great activity any way. Music is a companion that works beside you, from the beginning to the end of your life.
Playing music is something that keeps you company when you play alone, makes you feel good when you play with others. It is an incredibly deep and complex activity. It’s part of our culture and of any culture in the world. It is a beautiful language that brings together people that do not speak the same tongue. Given all the advantages that music provides, perhaps asking ourselves whether playing music might boost this or that cognitive skill becomes pointless. Music is good for you. There is simply no doubt about it.

It’s been a long journey on the investigations that try to understand whether learning to play a musical instrument or music training in general is good for your intelligence and may make you smarter. We definitely saw that there isn’t a clear answer. But can we try to give an answer nonetheless. In this video, I will share with you my own thoughts and comments.

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Music and Intelligence: Can Music Make You Smarter?

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