In ancient India, the art of music enjoyed a very important status in society. Music was used as a means of religious and spiritual expression and thus gained immense patronage even by the royals. But it is linked to IQ too.
Over time, this status of music diminished and now music is only associated with entertainment. With people being more focused on science and mathematics, the arts have taken a back seat. However, could it be that it is these arts and music specifically, that aid in better performance in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields?
The earliest studies on the relation between music and the human brain can be dated as far back as the early 20th century. Since then, as technology and the understanding of psychology evolved, so did our understanding of the effect music has on our brains. Several studies published from then on say that professional musical training or even music appreciation has increased the emotional and IQ among those who practice it.
How Does Music Impact Our IQ?
“Studies show that music is instrumental in improving our blood flow by lowering the levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol that ease pain and filter our emotions,” said Tanuja Gomes, co-founder and co-CEO at Furtados School of Music. This effect could be the reason why listening to music increases our concentration levels which then makes it easier to process and remember information. Studies have also proved that this effect only lasts for 15 minutes and has no lasting impact on a person’s general IQ. Therefore, just listening to music is not enough to impact our IQ.
Other studies that examined the brain structure of students who pursued music professionally and played musical instruments found that such people had more grey matter volume compared to their non-musical counterparts or even those who pursued different art forms. Grey matter in the brain is the part that contains neuronal cell bodies. It is associated with information processing, memory, emotions, and decision-making, among others, so more volume of grey matter is beneficial.
“Every human being is born with an equal number of brain cells, but then why is there so much difference in IQ? It is because of the interconnection between the brain cells, which plays an important role in developing IQ. Musical training creates an impact on the interconnection between the brain cells and when interconnection becomes stronger during the brain development age of a child, new connections between brain cells can also be formed. So, that’s how music creates a positive impact on the IQ of a person,” explains music therapist Santosh Ghatpande, co-founder of Music Café, Pune.
Music To Help Overcome Challenges
One of the biggest challenges we face on a personal/emotional level is stress and anxiety. It can lead to problems in processing and analysing information, apart from its obvious problems. If you let the mind de-stress and relax, it enhances its capabilities. “By activating neurochemical systems which are associated with our mood, emotion regulation, and mental well-being, music stimulates both the hemispheres of our brain which promotes beneficial changes in our nervous system,” Gomes adds, “It evokes a meditative state in our mind, which fends off depression.”
Another challenge people face is disabilities and them hampering their daily lives. “I have worked with three children with learning disabilities. Through music, within six years, despite their learning disabilities, they were recognised in their school for their music which improved their self-confidence,” notes music therapist Dr Meenakshi Ravi, founder-director of Meera Center for Music Therapy Education and Research, Bengaluru, “Soon enough, they also reached the same level of learning capacity as their peers and became excellent in their academic performance.”
Music For Academics and to Improve IQ
Children who began musical training early in their life have also been able to perform better academically than other children. They have better mathematical and verbal skills. It has helped previously academically weak students in gaining newfound confidence which also reflected in their academics with better grades and IQ while those who began training later in their life did not show drastic changes when compared to the former. “Whether it is concentration, leadership, attention, mathematical and analytical ability, emotional and logical intelligence, everything can be improved through music,” Dr Ravi points out.
“Scientifically, musical memory is stronger than any other memory. If music is associated with something, one can remember it for a long period. This can be applied in academics as well in terms of remembering different formulas. I’ve conducted many experiments with kids on understanding their exposure to music as a tool for academic enhancement. The experiments have given great results wherein children were able to grasp concepts within days which would earlier take months with typical teaching methods,” Ghatpande added.
While some experts and studies negate the increase in IQ with music, some support it. Nonetheless, music does seem to have if not major, some minor changes in the functionality of our brains. Even if it doesn’t make us the next Einstein or Newton, it definitely will make us a lot happier. So why not give it a try, even if done so only in the pursuit of happiness?
10 Tips for Memorizing Music to Improve IQ
Many student musicians wonder if memorizing is an important aspect of their education. For those who want to excel as performers, the answer is emphatically yes. Memorizing music gives you greater artistic freedom in your performance technique and helps you quickly master improvisation skills. Plus, for some reason, audiences prefer listening to musicians who’ve memorized a piece, rather than those who are reading from a score.
However, many students neglect to understand that memorization is a skill that needs to be developed too along with IQ. You must learn how to incorporate the best way to absorb music for yourself—individually—because effective recall is strongly connected to your preferred learning style.
Preparation is key. Traditional memorization requires hours and hours of practice. The following tips will hopefully reduce the time required for you to remember a piece, without compromising your results. Because even if you don’t know what learning style you respond to, these tips involve a comprehensive strategy that can help anyone master the skill.
#1. Start small
This might go without saying, but building your memory is a process. A hopeful athlete doesn’t start off with an advanced technique, he starts with something basic and builds from there. The same is true with memorizing. Begin with 8-12 bars of music. Later you’ll be able to focus on longer pieces.
#2. Use sight reading tips
Before you can commit a song to memory, you need to be able to play it correctly and identify all the elements. Pay attention to notes, phrasing, dynamics, and rhythm when reading through the music.
#3. Play it through
Perform the piece completely. Don’t worry about missed notes. Keep the rhythm and do your best. After you finish, analyze the mistakes you made, and just concentrate on those areas. Then play it through again. This technique is a lot like deliberate practice.
#4. Use your other senses
Turn off the lights or close your eyes while you play a piece of music from memory. Just like in Star Wars, use the force…of your instincts, they’re stronger than you realize. You’ll be surprised by the closer connection you’ll feel with your instrument and how much easier it is to understand the music when you have to rely solely on sound and touch.
#5. Visualize the music
When you close your eyes, try to see how the music looks on the sheet. Can you see the notes and dynamics? Most people have recall abilities that are never tried, but nevertheless, still available. Imagine taking a mental snapshot of the music before you play and then referring to it in your mind, while you play.
#6. Watch your hands
This is another great way to incorporate visual learning techniques. Watch the way your fingers move to the next note, apply vibrato, and their placement. Looking at your hands reinforces the sound and performance technique connection, making it easier to memorize music. It also strengthens and forges new neural pathways that will help you learn future pieces.
#7. Write it down
You don’t necessarily need your instrument to memorize music. Print off some lined staff paper and carry it with you. For many people, writing something down solidifies it in their memory. So when you’re waiting in line, or traveling, grab a pencil and your music paper and copy the music you want to memorize. This technique really works. Although it doesn’t add the instrument, it makes it much easier to visualize the music later when you’re playing.
#8. Hum, solfege, or hear the piece
This method is used by vocalists, but can help you memorize dynamics, phrasing and other key elements in a piece. If you can reproduce the song accurately, even only mentally, you’ll have a better grasp when it’s time to practice on your instrument.
#9. Consider the broader aspects of your part
If you want to learn a piece of music from an orchestral composition, consider how your part influences and impacts the piece. Do you play bass and build a feeling of apprehension? Does the violin piece you’re playing provide the contrast or the foundation of the piece? Understanding the emotion your part conveys can help you when memorizing.
#10. Ask other musicians for their tips
One of the best ways to learn effective memorization techniques is to ask others who have already been there. Your teachers, friends, and online music chat buddies (if allowed) can provide a number of new strategies and helpful advice.
Learning to memorize music will enhance your performance technique. Focus on it during your regular practice schedule and before long, you’ll see an incredible improvement in the way you memorize, and the amount of music you can easily recall.