Are songwriters intelligent? Several studies have found that the average IQ of musicians is significantly higher than the general population. What does intelligence have to do with music? Quite a lot, actually. This means that people who are good at writing songs tend to be more intelligent on average than those in other professions.
What is intelligence?
Intelligence is a term used to describe a person’s mental abilities, something which is usually measured through IQ testing.
To put it plainly, intelligence is the ability to think and learn. This can mean the ability for reasoning and problem-solving. It also represents someone’s ability to be successful in society, the practical side of intelligence.
Intelligence can be described as the sum total of being both “street smart” and “book smart.”
What does songwriting have to do with intelligence?
While we’re not aware of any intelligence studies on songwriters, it’s been shown that musicians generally have a higher IQ than non-musicians. The boost is an overall bump in IQ and not just in specific cognitive areas. Since songwriters are musicians, it would seem songwriters are more intelligent than those in other professions.
It makes sense. The creative process of songwriting requires a great deal of thinking and learning, which is what intelligence represents. Songwriters have to study their own experiences as well as learn how the world works around them.
So, because songwriters have to think about so many things when writing songs, it’s not hard to imagine that they would have greater intellectual abilities.
Songwriters use a plethora of techniques in order to write their songs – intelligence plays a big role in this. It’s not just musical talent or being able to play instruments, but also being able to learn new things and create off of previous ideas.
Studies on intelligence and music
In a study by The University of Toronto, children who received music lessons had greater increases in IQ than children who took other kinds of lessons.
“Compared to children in the control groups, children in the music groups exhibited greater increases in full-scale IQ from pre- to post-lessons.”
In another study, music lessons had a generally positive effect on the IQ of children. It was also shown that the positive effects on IQ during childhood lasted into adulthood.
They were found to have superior cognitive abilities in all areas, compared to children who did not take music lessons. The effect was general, and it did not appear to improve ability in any particular area (mathematical, social, etc.)
In both studies, the gains in intelligence were modest but clear in both cases. All of those piano lessons and scales really do pay off!
Not only do songwriters have to worry about the lyrics and melody of their songs, but they also need to know about chord progressions, music theory, and which instruments to use. (Thankfully, these skills can be learned.)
So, it would appear that intelligence does have a lot to do with music. Music improves people’s ability to think and learn, which are both important parts of intelligence. This makes sense when you consider the complexity of songwriting and how much practice it requires to be great at writing songs.
Lifetime cognitive effects of playing music
A lifetime of playing music has also been shown to improve mental ability in old age, according to a study by The University of Kansas Medical Center.
In that study, playing music was found to have a significant impact on the mental abilities of elderly people. They were shown to perform better in visual memory tasks as well as remembering new words. The earlier someone started performing music and the total number of years also had a positive effect on IQ.
This is significant for those who want to reduce their chances of developing mental diseases associated with old age, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Does playing music makes you smarter, or are intelligent people drawn to music?
In studies, the most significant advantage has been for individuals who learn to play music rather than simply listen to it.
Musicians have been shown to have better working memories and can process information faster than those who don’t play music.
It could be that intelligent people have a natural attraction to music. Yet, anybody can benefit from learning an instrument. Either way, the correlation between intelligence and being a musician is clear.
According to studies on children and adults, music lessons do have a long-lasting positive effect on IQ. That means, even “nonmusical” people can learn to play music and gain higher intelligence later in life.
Does that mean you have to be intelligent to play music? Well, it appears that anybody can benefit from learning to play an instrument and performing music.
Music: The most pleasant approach to improve your intelligence
If you’re looking for a way to boost your intelligence, playing music is a great option. I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to become smarter.
Playing music has many other benefits, such as making you happier, reducing stress, and improving your memory. It can also improve your social life (and love life 😉).
It’s possible that intelligent people simply have an innate attraction to music. No matter how you look at it, playing music can make anyone smarter. So, if you needed another reason to be a musician, there you have it.
You will not only be making beautiful music, but you’ll also be gaining a higher IQ. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll even write the next hit song!
Music Lessons Enhance IQ
Publication Journal: Psychological Science, August 2004
By E. Glenn Schellenberg
From the University of Toronto, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Long-Term Positive Associations Between Music Lessons and IQ
Publication Journal: Journal of Educational Psychology, 2006
By E. Glenn Schellenberg
From the University of Toronto
The Relation between Instrumental Musical Activity and Cognitive Aging
Publication Journal: Neuropsychology, April 2011
By Brenda Hanna-Pladdy; Alicia MacKay
From the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas