Does music make a difference to learning?

In the age of austerity, most educational systems have seen dramatic cuts to arts schooling, with music amongst the areas worst affected owing to the high equipment costs. Arts are often seen as non-essential, a ‘nice-to-have’; something that is done more for recreation than for economic productivity, but increasingly many are asking ‘are we missing the point’?

Speak to any musician and they will tell you that not only is music a language, but it is also mathematics and physics in application – and they’re right. There is now clear evidence that learning a second language boosts an individual’s learning capacity and is linked with higher intelligence. More recent studies have begun to show that the brain does indeed see music as a language, and thus learning an instrument can deploy many of the same mental benefits.

Less studied is the benefit that this can have on understanding of mathematics and physics, but when you consider that music is noted in fractional time signatures and transposition is based on numerical intervals, it’s easy to see where there are links that can aid learning. As for the physical element – the production of a note serves as a perfect living example of waveforms and frequency in action.