In one of the live video lectures, I posed a question to Dr. Rettinger along the lines of “Can people become intelligent in the musical category by practicing with an instrument, or are they only skilled through practice and repetition and there was no natural skill there?” He shortened the question to something a bit less wordy and I came up with the topic of, “Does learning music make you more intelligent?”
The short answer is yes. And that’s it, I’m done.
I’m only joking.
As referenced within this article, one of the key points is that “Musicians are found to have superior working memory compared to non-musicians,” and I can absolutely support this theory. The idea that learning an instrument for one can improve your memory, capability to think on a specialized level working with the instrument you’re playing, is sensible when you think about how complicated it is to learn the fundamentals of music let alone just picking up an instrument and playing it. You have to learn how to read sheet music, how to know which cords or keys or whatever in order to produce a specific tone or sound and how striking them in a different way will create an entirely different sound. So even if you have no natural talent for music, even learning through intense practice and repetition will still inherently make you smarter through application and experience.
It can also improve things on a more physical level, because you have to hone your reflexes to act on impulses without having to think too deeply about playing a song considering you don’t have time to stand there and pontificate over what string to pluck next if you’re playing a guitar. You just have to be able to do it on the fly and that level of rapid thinking on top of rapid movement are used in such fascinating conjunction with one another and it has so many benefits to your neurological processing. Another point that was provided within the article is the idea of “musical experience strengthens many of the same aspects of brain function that are impaired in individuals with language and learning difficulties.” This helps support what I’m writing here because not only can learning and experiencing music help bolster your intelligence, but it can and has been proven to improve upon neurological processes within your brain.
I’ve never learned how to play an instrument because I lacked the patience to commit to it when I owned a guitar in my younger days, but I am someone who thoroughly enjoys music. I have a very eclectic taste in things, and I will often have “lofi hip hop radio” playing in the background with “beats to relax and study to” while I’m doing my work. People argue that having something like that will distract you, but I feel it helps focus my attention and aids me in getting my work done. I’m even listening to it right now as I type this.
I like to think that my experience with musical appreciation has in some way improved my overall intellect, because when you’re describing or talking about music it utilizes a different portion of your brain that you may not be typically using when performing other tasks throughout your daily life.
I think any number of things can really help improve your intellect even if someone else might detract from that and say asinine things like, “Oh you’ll never learn anything from that.” Because it is really just how people apply what they have learned and can use in practical situations. Intelligence isn’t just about what you learn from a book but it’s also what you can apply in the real world. Learning music and playing an instrument or just appreciating music and listening to it follow this ideology as well.