The Impact of Music Training on the Cognitive Development of Preschool and Junior School Children: A Review of Research

Cover Page

Cite item


The review presents the results of studies of the impact of music training on the cognitive development of preschool and junior school children. It is shown that music lessons can contribute to the development of reading, writing, listening and speaking as well as mathematical skills, memory, intelligence, and executive functions. After analyzing a number of relevant studies, the authors came to the following conclusions: (1) the impact of music lessons on the development of the cognitive sphere in children is associated with concomitant factors, such as: parental involvement in music lessons and home musical environment, age when a child begins to take music lessons and their duration, socioeconomic status of the family; and 2) it is systemic music training, which includes singing, playing musical instruments and solfeggio, that can have a beneficial effect on cognitive development. The mechanisms by which music training promote the cognitive development of children were also examined. While a vast body of work confirms the beneficial effects of music training in this regard, there are a number of studies showing no such effects. Special consideration is also given to the reasons why positive research results can be erroneous. In conclusion, the authors give recommendations for designing further research on this topic as well as for organizing music lessons for children of preschool and junior school age.

About the authors

Larisa F. Bayanova

Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7410-9127

Doctor of Psychology, Professor, is Senior Researcher of the Laboratory of Childhood Psychology and Digital Socialization, Psychological Institute

9 Mokhovaya St, bldg 4, Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation

Daria A. Bukhalenkova

Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education; Lomonosov Moscow State University

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4523-1051

PhD in Psychology, is Associate Professor of the Department of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, and Scientific Researcher of the Laboratory of Childhood Psychology and Digital Socialization, Psychological Institute, Russian Academy of Education

9 Mokhovaya St, bldg 4, Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation; 11 Mokhovaya St, bldg 9, Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation

Alexandra G. Dolgikh

Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education

ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8845-1575

PhD in Psychology, is Senior Researcher of the Laboratory of Childhood Psychology and Digital Socialization, Psychological Institute

9 Mokhovaya St, bldg 4, Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation

Elena A. Chichinina

Lomonosov Moscow State University

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7220-9781

Researcher of the Department of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy, Faculty of Psychology

11 Mokhovaya St, bldg 9, Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation


  1. Ailamazyan, A.M. (2019). Musical-movement practice as a method of self-knowledge and education a creative personality. National Psychological Journal, 12(4), 114–127. (In Russ.)
  2. Boyko, L.A., Tereshchenko, L.V., Velichkovsky, B.B., & Latanov, A.V. (2019). Visual-motor activity of professional pianists at sight-reading music. Moscow University Psychology Bulletin, 2, 3–26. (In Russ.)
  3. Degé, S., Wehrum, R., Stark, G., & Schwarzer, G. (2011). The influence of two years of school music training in secondary school on visual and auditory memory. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 8, 608–623.
  4. Dmitrieva, E.S., & Gelman, V.Ya. (2021). Vzaimosvyaz' akademicheskoi uspevaemosti i emotsional'nogo vospriyatiya u detei, poluchayushchikh dopolnitel'noe muzykal'noe obrazovanie: Vozrastnoi aspekt. Psychologist, (1), 60–72. (In Russ.)
  5. Fasano, M.C., Semeraro, C., Cassibba, R., Kringelbach, M.L., Monacis, L., Palo, V. de, ... & Brattico, E. (2019). Short-term orchestral music training modulates hyperactivity and inhibitory control in school-age children: A longitudinal behavioural study. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 750.
  6. Frischen, U., Schwarzer, G., & Degé, F. (2021). Music lessons enhance executive functions in 6- to 7-year-old children. Learning and Instruction, 74, 101442.
  7. Gabdulkhakov, V.F. (2020). About the role of musical and rhythmic exercises in the development of cognitive functions of a child in digital education. Preschool Education Today, (3), 4–16. (In Russ.)
  8. Glozman, Zh.M., & Pavlov, A.Ye. (2007). Effect of music lessons on spatial and kinetic functions development in early school-age children. Psychological Science and Education, 12(3), 35–46. (In Russ.)
  9. Goeghegan, N., & Mitchelmore, M. (1996). Possible effects of early childhood music on mathematical achievement. Australian Research in Early Childhood, 1, 57–64.
  10. Hallam, S. (2017). The impact of making music on aural perception and language skills: A research synthesis. London Review of Education, 15(3), 388–406.
  11. Hardie, D., Davies, H., & Barber, B. (2007). Music ensemble participation, academic achievement and academic self-concept: A longitudinal study of adolescents. In 40th Anniversary Australian Society for Music Education (ASME) National Conference (pp. 106–110). Perth: ASME.
  12. Hennessy, S.L., Sachs, M.E., Ilari, B.S., & Habibi, A. (2019). Effects of music training on inhibitory control and associated neural networks in school-aged children: A longitudinal study. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 13, 1080.
  13. Hille, A., & Schupp, J. (2015). How learning a musical instrument affects the development of skills. Economics of Education Review, 44, 56–82.
  14. Ho, Y.-C., Cheung, M.-C., & Chan, A.S. (2003). Music training improves verbal but not visual memory: Cross-sectional and longitudinal explorations in children. Neuropsychology, 17(3), 439–450
  15. Holmes, S., & Hallam, S. (2017). The impact of participation in music on learning mathematics. London Review of Education, 15, 425–438.
  16. Janus, M., Lee, Y., Moreno, S., & Bialystok, E. (2016). Effects of short-term music and second-language training on executive control. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 144, 84–97.
  17. Jaschke, A.C., Honing, H., & Scherder, E.J.A. (2018). Longitudinal analysis of music education on executive functions in primary school children. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 12.
  18. Kempert, S., Götz, R., Blatter, K., Tibken, C., Artelt, C., Schneider, W., & Stanat, P. (2016). Training early literacy related skills: To which degree does a musical training contribute to phonological awareness development? Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1803.
  19. Knyazeva, T.S. (2019). Musical abilities and intelligence as a subject of research in musical psychology and psychology of musical education. Musical Art and Education, 7(3), 30–45. (In Russ.)
  20. Lorenzo, O., Herrera, L., Hernández-Candelas, M., & Badea, M. (2014). Influence of music training on language development. A longitudinal study. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 128, 527–530.
  21. MacCutcheon, D., Füllgrabe, C., Eccles, R., Linde, J. van der, Panebianco, C., Ljung, R. (2020). Investigating the effect of one year of learning to play a musical instrument on speech-in-noise perception and phonological short-term memory in 5-to-7-year-old children. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2865.
  22. Mehr, S.A., Schachner, A., Katz, R.C., & Spelke, E.S. (2013). Two randomized trials provide no consistent evidence for nonmusical cognitive benefits of brief preschool music enrichment. PLoS ONE, 8.
  23. Miendlarzewska, E.A., & Trost, W.J. (2014). How musical training affects cognitive development: Rhythm, reward and other modulating variables. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7.
  24. Moreno, S., Bialystok, E., Barac, R., Schellenberg, E.G., Cepeda, N.J., & Chau, T. (2011). Short-term music training enhances verbal intelligence and executive function. Psychological Science, 22, 1425–1433.
  25. Moreno, S., Friesen, D., & Bialystok, E. (2011). Effect of music training on promoting preliteracy skills: preliminary causal evidence. Music perception, 29, 165–172.
  26. Panyusheva, T.D. (2008). Muzykal'nyi mozg: Obzor otechestvennykh i zarubezhnykh issledovanii. Asymmetry, 2(2), 41–54. (In Russ.)
  27. Pasiali, V. (2012). Supporting parent – child interactions: Music therapy as an intervention for promoting mutually responsive orientation. Journal of Music Therapy, 49, 303–334.
  28. Patscheke, H., Degé, F., & Schwarzer, G. (2016). The effects of training in music and phonological skills on phonological awareness in 4- to 6-year-old children of immigrant families. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1647.
  29. Permyakova, M.E., & Tkachenko, E.S. (2016). Music classes influence on the cognitive development of primary school children. Education and Science, 4(133), 155–170. (In Russ.)
  30. Piro, J.J., & Ortiz, C. (2009). The effect of piano lessons on the vocabulary and verbal sequencing skills of primary grade students. Psychology of Music, 37, 325–347.
  31. Portowitz, A., Lichtenstein, O., Egorova, L., & Brand, E. (2009). Underlying mechanisms linking music education and cognitive modifiability. Research Studies in Music Education, 31, 107–129.
  32. Rauscher, F.H., & Hinton, S.C. (2011). Music instruction and its diverse extra- musical benefits. Music Perception, 29, 215–226.
  33. Roden, I., Kreutz, G., & Bongard, S. (2012). Effects of a school-based instrumental music program on verbal and visual memory in primary school children: A longitudinal study. Frontiers in Psychology, 3.
  34. Román-Caballero, R., Vadillo, M., Trainor, L., & Lupiáñez, J. (2020). Please don’t stop the music: A meta-analysis of the benefits of learning to play an instrument on cognitive and academic skills. PsyArXiv.
  35. Rose, D., Jones Bartoli, A., & Heaton, P. (2019). Measuring the impact of musical learning on cognitive, behavioural and socio-emotional wellbeing development in children. Psychology of Music, 47(2), 284–303.
  36. Rylkova V.A. (2004). Didakticheskie osnovy ispol'zovaniya muzykal'noi deyatel'nosti pri obuchenii detei 4–7 let chteniyu, pis'mu i matematike. Ph.D. in Education Thesis. Moscow: Moscow Region State University. (In Russ.)
  37. Sala, G., & Gobet, F. (2017). When the music’s over. Does music skill transfer to children’s and young adolescents’ cognitive and academic skills? A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 20, 55–67.
  38. Sala, G., & Gobet, F. (2020). Cognitive and academic benefits of music training with children: A multilevel meta-analysis. Memory & Cognition, 48(8), 1429–1441.
  39. Schellenberg, E.G. (2004). Music lessons enhance IQ. Psychological Science, 15, 511–514.
  40. Schellenberg, E.G. (2006). Long-term positive associations between music lessons and IQ. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 457–468.
  41. Schellenberg, E.G., & Mankarious, M. (2012). Music training and emotion comprehension in childhood. Emotion, 12, 887–891.
  42. Schwarz, U., & Gawrilow, C. (2019). Measuring and compensating for deficits of self-regulation in school children via ambulatory assessment. Psychology in Russia: State of the Art, 12(4), 8–22.
  43. Slater, J., Strait, D.L., Skoe, E., O’Connel, S., Thompson, E., & Kraus, N. (2014). Longitudinal effects of group music instruction on literacy skills in low-income children. PLoS ONE, 9.
  44. Southgate, D.E., & Roscigno, V.J. (2009). The impact of music on childhood and adolescent achievement. Social Science Quarterly, 90, 4–21.
  45. Sternberg, R.J. (2020). Toward a theory of musical intelligence. Psychology of Music, 49(6), 1775–1785.
  46. Williams, K.E., Barrett, M.S., Welch, G.F., Abad, V., & Broughton, M. (2015). Associations between early shared music activities in the home and later child outcomes: Findings from the longitudinal study of Australian children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 31, 113–124.
  47. Williams, K.E., Berthelsen, D., Nicholson, J.M., Walker, S., & Abad, V. (2012). The effectiveness of a short-term group music therapy intervention for parents who have a child with a disability. Journal of Music Therapy, 49, 23–44.
  48. Winsler, A., Ducenne, L., & Koury, A. (2011). Singing one’s way to self-regulation: The role of early music and movement curricula and private speech. Early Education and Development, 22, 274–304.
  49. Zapata, G.P., & Hargreaves, D. (2018). The effects of musical activities on the selfesteem of displaced children in Colombia. Psychology of Music, 46, 540–550.

Copyright (c) 2021 Bayanova L.F., Bukhalenkova D.A., Dolgikh A.G., Chichinina E.A.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies