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December 31, 2019 Tuesday 04:22:56 PM IST

Intelligent People Learn Music Faster

Photo by night owl for pixabay.com

Intelligent people learn music faster according to a study done by Michigan State University. The study reported in Intelligence may be the first to examine the relationship between intelligence, music aptitude and growth mindset among early stage learners of piano. Growth mindset refers to whether students believe they can improve basic abilities, like piano ability. 
As part of the study, 161 undergraduates were taught how to play 'Happy Birthday' on the piano with the help of a video guide. The students performed multiple times after practice. It was found that students varied in their ability to learn and understand how to play piano. The students were then given cognitive ability tests that measured things such as problem-solving and processing speed, tests of music aptitude that measured, for example, the ability to differentiate between similar rhythms. 
Growth mindset didn't predict skill acquisition. "The results were surprising, because people have claimed that mindset plays an important role when students are confronted with challenges, like trying to learn a new musical instrument," Burgoyne said. "And yet, it didn't predict skill acquisition." That said, results will likely differ for those with greater skill. 
"Our study examined one of the earliest stages of skill acquisition," Burgoyne said. "Early experiences can be formative, but I would caution against drawing conclusions about skilled musicians based on our study of beginners." But applied generally, the study's findings may be helpful in education. 
It follows a recent review of mindset research that found a weak relationship between growth mindset and academic achievement. Perhaps more concerning, that study found interventions designed to boost achievement by encouraging children to believe they can improve their basic abilities may be fruitless. That is, when those interventions successfully altered students' mindsets, there wasn't a significant effect on academic achievement.