Music is universal, yet many are afraid to discuss it if one is not a musician.  This experimental animation about music summarizes most of the parts and bits of music with each of the terminology accompanied by respective visual manifestations:

Interview with Jad Abumrad on the function of music:

If you would like to understand music, here is a video to help:

It’s nice to listen to good music and even perhaps understand it. But can it make your smarter in any way?

In 2013, Harvard scientists have published the “Muting the Mozart effect“ which states that listening to music for children do not improve their intelligence.

In this study, researcher Samuel Mehr had conducted a study where he had “randomly selected” 45 children from the Harvard community divided up to take music classes, visual arts classes, or no classes for 6 weeks, and then measured their cognitive intelligence with some tests(not the IQ test as it has its limitations).  The result was that he had found that the children did not get any smarter after six weeks of the special classes.  He concludes that listening to or learning music has no effect on its contribution to making children smart, while also acknowledging that music is worthwhile in its own right, that it is important to educate music, in the same way that we should learn Shakespeare for its inherent significance in one’s education.

In a nutshell, what Mehr appears to be saying is that putting the time and money into music education in the manner of “I want my child to be smarter, therefore  I am going to provide him piano lessons(whether he likes playing the piano or not)” is not a good reason. While at the same time, he stresses that music in and of itself is very important and worthwhile in universal manner, so we should teach the children music for its intrinsic benefits.

As for the 6-week long study of Mehr, the length of the study is simply too short.  Six weeks is too short of a time period to judge the learning of music itself(guitar, piano, clarinet, theory, composition, etc.) even for fast learners, let alone judge the study of how music learning can influence people’s cognitive ability.

If a six-week long math lesson did not have positive effects on the increase of intelligence, would it be a cause to abandon teaching math?  Or languages such as Spanish?  Rather than judging the worthiness of a subject by whether something “makes” us smarter or not, we should be teaching and learning math and Spanish because they are is important, worthwhile, and essential items which we need.  Such is the case with learning music.

The significance of this study is not so much in its “scientific findings” per se.  Rather, it provides us an opportunity to ask the fundamental question of why we educate our children, and for what reasons.  We should educate the children on things which are important, worthwhile, and beautiful, where the learned individuals are more prepared to be the recipient of the success granted by the society’s norms and values.


In comparison, there are numerous studies on how the brain is shaped by musical training:

A Little Goes a Long Way: How the Adult Brain Is Shaped by Musical Training in Childhood


Playing a musical instrument changes the anatomy and function of the brain. But do these changes persist after music training stops? We probed this question by measuring auditory brainstem responses in a cohort of healthy young human adults with varying amounts of past musical training. We show that adults who received formal music instruction as children have more robust brainstem responses to sound than peers who never participated in music lessons and that the magnitude of the response correlates with how recently training ceased. Our results suggest that neural changes accompanying musical training during childhood are retained in adulthood. These findings advance our understanding of long-term neuroplasticity and have general implications for the development of effective auditory training programs.

In short, if a child receives music lessons, there can be more brain growth, and it stays until the adulthood.

Here is an article comparing Steve Jobs’ view on humanities education vs. Bill Gates’ view to focus on job-producing majors:

Who was right about education: Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?

NY Times article by Vivek Wadhwa, UC Berkeley professor and Harvard researcher:

Look at the Leaders of Silicon Valley – NY TIMES

What would Bach’s music look like when expressed along with visualizations of today?