Table of Contents

How Learning a Musical Instrument Affects the Development of Skills

Adrian Hille, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)
Jürgen Schupp, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Institute for Sociology, Freie Universität, The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Music, Neuroscience, and the Psychology of Well-Being: A Precis

Adam M. Croom, University of Pennsylvania


"How Learning a Musical Instrument Affects the Development of Skills" Free Download
SOEPpaper No. 591

ADRIAN HILLE, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)
JÜRGEN SCHUPP, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Institute for Sociology, Freie Universität, The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Despite numerous studies on skill development,we know little about the causal effects of music training on cognitive and non-cognitive skills. This study examines how long-term music training during childhood and youth affects the development of cognitive skills, school grades, personality, time use and ambition using representative data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Our findings suggest that adolescents with music training have better cognitive skills and school grades and are more conscientious, open and ambitious. These effects do not differ by socio-economic status. Music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance. In order to address the non-random selection into music training, we take into account detailed information on parents, which may determine both the decision to pursue music lessons and educational outcomes: socio-economic background, personality, involvement with the child’s school, and taste for the arts. In addition, we control for the predicted probability to give up music before age 17 as well as the adolescent’s secondary school type. We provide evidence that our results are robust to both reverse causality and the existence of partly treated individuals in the control group.

"Music, Neuroscience, and the Psychology of Well-Being: A Precis" Free Download
Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 393, 2012

ADAM M. CROOM, University of Pennsylvania

In Flourish, the positive psychologist Seligman (2011) identifies five commonly recognized factors that are characteristic of human flourishing or well-being: (1) “positive emotion,? (2) “relationships,? (3) “engagement,? (4) “achievement,? and (5) “meaning? (p. 24). Although there is no settled set of necessary and sufficient conditions neatly circumscribing the bounds of human flourishing (Seligman, 2011), we would mostly likely consider a person that possessed high levels of these five factors as paradigmatic or prototypical of human flourishing. Accordingly, if we wanted to go about the practical task of actually increasing our level of well-being, we ought to do so by focusing on practically increasing the levels of the five factors that are characteristic of well-being. If, for instance, an activity such as musical engagement can be shown to positively influence each or all of these five factors, this would be compelling evidence that an activity such as musical engagement can positively contribute to one’s living a flourishing life. I am of the belief that psychological research can and should be used, not only to identify and diagnose maladaptive psychological states, but identify and promote adaptive psychological states as well. In this article I advance the hypothesis and provide supporting evidence for the claim that musical engagement can positively contribute to one’s living a flourishing life. Since there has not yet been a substantive and up-to-date investigation of the possible role of music in contributing to one’s living a flourishing life, the purpose of this article is to conduct this investigation, thereby bridging the gap and stimulating discussion between the psychology of music and the psychology of well-being.


About this eJournal

Very few fields have attracted as much attention to music in recent years as the study of music and the brain. Intelligence, broadly defined and conceived, as it converges with music is one of the areas of discussion for this eJournal. All interdisciplinary areas of enquiry for this field are invited, including: music and cognition, music and neuroscience, music education and the brain, music and evolutionary biology, music and communication, music perception and cognition, and neurological processes engaged during musical activity, such as auditory memory and its encoding process. The scope of the eJournal is broad, including research ranging from the most specific cognitive processes - such as how the mind monitors the beat - to broader concepts of determining familiar and unfamiliar music. This eJournal provides a shared platform for research that draws on both the discipline of cognitive neuroscience and the music social sciences.


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Advisory Board

Music & the Mind eJournal

Professor of Music Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Artistic Director and Founder, VocalEssence, Vice President, International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM)

Professor of Music, Musicology and Ethnomusicology, Boston University

Lecturer, University of Massachusetts Boston; Visiting Scholar, Phillips Academy

Professor of Music, College of Fine Art, Director ad interim, School of Music, Boston University

Professor of Music, Music Education, Dean, Don Wright Faculty of Music - University of Western Ontario