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Topic: Semi-OT: Musicians' IQs and Creativity

  1. #1

    Lightbulb Semi-OT: Musicians' IQs and Creativity

    A recent article (C. Gibson et al., Brain and Cognition (2009) 69:162-69) reported the results of a study on creativity in musicians. They studied a group of 20 musicians (and a control group of 20 non-musicians from the same university), with the two groups matched for age, education, , SAT scores, and high school grades. Among the more interesting findings:
    • Musicians scored higher on verbal IQ and full scale IQ
    • Musicians scored higher on the Gough Personality Scale (a measure of creativity)
    • Musicians scored higher on the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire in general, including the Cognitive-Perceptual subscale (which measures "perceptual aberrations and "magical thinking") and the Disorganization subscale (which is linked to odd behavior and speech), but not the Interpersonal subscale (which indicates reduced social and emotional functioning). The scores, however, were not high enough to be considered clinical.
    • Musicians scored higher on other tests of creativity (that were not related to music)

    So again, music is good for you. Just don't listen to those voices in your head too closely...
    Grant Green ||| www.contrabass.com
    Sarrusophones and other seismic devices

  2. #2

    Re: Semi-OT: Musicians' IQs and Creativity

    Totally unfounded, but in my experience, there seems to be a commonality between physics, computer science, and music. I think it has to do with the mind's ability to build or improvise from a set structure. For instance, what do programmers do? They use a language to create a desired result. What do composers do? The same. How does a physicist extrapolate the mysteries of things too small to see and too large to comprehend? The same way a jazz musician looks at a page of chord changes and creates a solo on the spot.

    On a less theoretical note, last year at a performance of the Texas All-State Jazz Ensemble it was announced in the introduction that the SAT scores for the musicians on stage were roughly 200 points higher than the state average. Musicians have frequently been among the best students in their class.
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA

  3. #3

    Re: Semi-OT: Musicians' IQs and Creativity

    I don't think it's so much that "music is good for you" ... more of a correlation than a causation, methinks.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  4. #4
    Senior Member bigears's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Central Illinois

    Re: Semi-OT: Musicians' IQs and Creativity

    Good topic! Here's an article from the University of Texas:

    Music and Intelligence

    Brain development is still incomplete at birth. Early experiences that stimulate the brain are involved in enhancing its neural growth. A child's brain develops its full potential with exposure to enriching experiences in early childhood. These stimuli received during the early parts of childhood are thus crucial to brain growth and connections made in nerve cell networks. Studies indicate that early exposure to musical training helps a child's brain reach its potential by generating neural connections utilized in abstract reasoning.

    The reasoning skills required for a test in spatial reasoning are the same ones children use when they listen to music. Children use these reasoning skills to order the notes in their brain to form the melodies. Also, some concepts of math must be understood in order to understand music. Experts speculate that listening to music exercises the same parts of the brain that handle mathematics, logic, and higher level reasoning.

    Below are a few studies reinforcing the correlation between music and intelligence.

    Music vs. Computers

    In 1997 a study involving three groups of preschoolers was conducted to determine the effect of music versus computer training on early childhood development. One group received private piano/keyboard training and singing lessons. A second group received computer training, and a third/control group did not receive any special training. The group that received the piano/keyboard training scored 34% higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than either of the other two groups. These results suggest that music enhances certain higher brain functions, particularly abstract reasoning skills, required in math and science.

    Naming Body Parts

    The use of music in training four and five year old children yielded the highest improvement in the ability to name body parts. A control group did not receive any training, a second group received verbal instructions, and a third group received verbal instructions plus acting out movements. The final group had a song coordinated with the verbal instructions and a dance coordinated with the acting out movements. Although the three experimental groups displayed an increase in their ability to name body parts the music group exhibited the highest degree of improvement.

    Kodaly Training

    First grade students received extensive Kodaly training for seven months. Kodaly training involves the use of folk songs and emphasis on melodic and rhythmic elements. At the end of seven months the experimental group had higher reading scores than the control group, which did not receive any special treatment. Not only did the seven month instruction increase reading scores, but continued musical training proved to be beneficial. The experimental group continued to show higher reading scores with continued training.

    SAT scores

    Data reveals a correlation between arts education, including music, and SAT scores. Students who were involved in arts education achieved higher SAT scores. The longer students were involved in arts education, the higher the increase in SAT scores. This study also correlated arts education with higher scores in standardized tests, reading, English, history, citizenship, and geography. An individual's socioeconomic status plays a role in the attainment of arts education. The higher an individual's socioeconomic status, the greater the likelihood of participation in arts education. To account for the advantage given by a relatively higher socioeconomic status, the same studies were done with a focus on students with a relatively lower socioeconomic status. The results indicated that students with a relatively lower socioeconomic status, that were exposed to arts education, had an advantage over those students without any arts education which was proportionally equal to the students with a relatively higher socioeconomic status and exposure to arts education.


    Music exposure affects older students as well. Three groups of college students were exposed to either Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos, K448, a relaxation tape, or silence. The group exposed to the Mozart piece was the only group to achieve an increase on the spatial IQ test. Further studies revealed that neither dance music nor taped short stories produced an increase in spatial IQ similar to the Mozart piece. The increase in spatial IQ appears to be related to some unique aspects of the Mozart piece rather than music in general. The experimenters chose the piece because they felt its musical structure facilitated cognitive processing in the brain and music lacking sufficient complexity would result in interference with abstract reasoning.

    Music may not only be related to intelligence by its stimulation of the brain, but it may also increase intelligence by the type of attitudes, interests, and discipline it fosters in children. Some believe that music gives children the self-confidence to achieve and that self-confidence spreads to other areas of education outside of music. With the increase of self-confidence, children may change their attitudes and aspirations toward academics. Music is also believed to increase interest in academic learning. One study revealed that when children were exposed to traditional Japanese and Chinese music, or other slow pieces, and paired with movements, such as Yoga and Tai chi, children became calmer and were better able to focus. This calming effect allows children to have a greater focus on learning. Music also improves students' listening skills. Furthermore, discipline required to learn and play music is beneficial to academic achievement.

  5. #5

    Re: Semi-OT: Musicians' IQs and Creativity

    Quote Originally Posted by GDG View Post
    • Musicians scored higher on ... the Disorganization subscale
    Based on this, anybody who has ever seen my office or my house would predict that I could be a world-class musician!

    Seriously, my new year resolution was to clean my office at work. Today a co-worker stopped by and said "Hey, I thought you were going to clean your office." I did (it took me three days!) -- unfortunately it took less than three weeks to clutter itself back up.
    Best Regards,

  6. #6

    Re: Semi-OT: Musicians' IQs and Creativity

    I always thought I was smarter than everyone else, but now I know why.
    -Keith Fuller

    iMac Quad i7 * MacBook Pro * Logic Studio 9 * WD 320GB & 1TB Externals@7,200RPM * Presonus Firebox * M-Audio Axiom 25 & Keystation 61 * Rode NT1-A * Epiphone Hollowbody * Fender Amp * KRK Rokit 8's

  7. #7

    Re: Semi-OT: Musicians' IQs and Creativity

    Quote Originally Posted by keithjfuller View Post
    I always thought I was smarter than everyone else, but now I know why.
    Yeah, but it doesn't say a thing about humble or good looking
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA

  8. #8

    Re: Semi-OT: Musicians' IQs and Creativity

    When we were younger musicians we were always trying to score. (This might need translating into US English - does Google do this?)
    Things may come and things may go but the art school dance goes on forever
    NOW WITH Cubase 5, JABB,GPO, Fender Strat, Ibanez RG, Yamaha Fretless Bass, Framus Archtop, The Trumpet and Mr T Sax, together with GREEN SEALING WAX

  9. #9
    Senior Member bigears's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Central Illinois

    Re: Semi-OT: Musicians' IQs and Creativity

    Buckshead, We get your meaning just fine!

  10. #10

    Re: Semi-OT: Musicians' IQs and Creativity

    Interesting stuff, GDG!

    Something I've never understood about my own relationship with music is that math was always my worst subject, I have no affinity for it - in fact was put in a remedial Algebra class in High School, and couldn't even hack that!

    but not the Interpersonal subscale (which indicates reduced social and emotional functioning)..."

    Now this doesn't surprise me. Musicians, the guys who Play music, have a reputation for being not very good with their social skills. I've certainly noticed that all my life. AND maybe it's one reason I've never thought of myself as a "musician"--! I played in public a little bit when I was younger, but one of the biggest problems I had with that was having to deal with all those crazy Musicians!

    Randy B.

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