A team of psychologists led by the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Prof Glenn Schellenberg looked at the links between musical training, intelligence and personality type in a group of 130 children aged between 10 and 12.
The scientists assessed the children’s intelligence using their school grades and a series of IQ tests. They also looked at two key personality traits: conscientiousness and openness to new experiences.
They found that the link between learning an instrument and school performance disappeared when they controlled for personality type. In other words, it’s a child’s personality, and not their ability to play music, that’s determining how well they are likely to do at school.
However, other research contradicts these findings. For example, several studies have shown that children who have taken music lessons perform better on spatial tests, demonstrating abilities that could come in handy for subjects such as maths and science.