Measuring the impact of musical learning on cognitive, behavioural and socio-emotional wellbeing development in children.

Dawn C. Rose, Alice Jones Bartoli, Pamela Heaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


This study investigated the effects of musical instrument learning on the concomitant development of cognitive, behavioural and socio-emotional skills in 38 seven to nine year old children. Pre/post measures of intelligence, memory, socio-emotional behaviour, motor ability and visual-motor integration were compared in children who received either extra-curricular musical training (EMT: n=19) or statutory school music group lesson (SSM: n=19). Results showed a significant association between musical aptitude and intelligence overall. The EMT group showed a significant increase in IQ (7 points), in comparison to 4.3 points for the SSM group, suggesting an effect of musical learning on intelligence. No effects were found for memory, or for visual motor integration or socio-emotional behaviour. However, significant improvements in gross motor ability where revealed for the EMT group only, for the Aiming and Catching composite. With regard to the measure of fluid intelligence, these findings support previous studies (e.g. Forgeard et al., 2008; Hyde et al., 2009; Schellenberg, 2004). The novel use of the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (Henderson, Sugden & Barnett, 2007) provides evidence that musical learning may support development in a child’s ability to judge distance, consider velocity, focus and utilise their proprio-, intero- and extero- ceptive nervous systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalPsychology of Music
Early online date13 Dec 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Dec 2017


  • music
  • Music Education
  • cognitive
  • children
  • behavioural
  • Socio-emotional wellbeing
  • intelligence
  • learning


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