Classical Music and its Effect on the Cognitive Development of a Nigerian Child – A case study of Music Tutelage on selected Pupils


A case study of music tutelage on selected pupil




Classical music has affected humans for decades. According to Deveaux (89), “more than a third (34%) of the adult population said they “liked” classical music. Classical composers such as Ludwig Van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis have created musical pieces that are not only pleasurable to hear but can be used to aid with studying and cognitive development in children. It is important to understand the role music plays in knowing how to improve attributes such as test taking skills, memorization, and concentration. According to How Music Affects us and Promotes Health classical music with slower beats per minute has been shown to aid with the cognitive development in children and also assists with the reduction of stress in adults. This research will take an in-depth look into how classical music, created at different tempos, affects cognitive development of a Nigerian child.

The relationship between music and cognitive development has been an area of interest for researchers for many years. Some studies have shown that music can enhance cognitive abilities (Hall 104), and others have shown that it can interfere with complex cognitive processes but not simple processes (Fogelson 24). In 2004, researchers conducted a study that presented the effect of classical music on cognitive development. The effect demonstrated that there may be an important relationship between certain types of music (e.g. classical) and cognitive development (Jackson & Tluaka 225). One study involving college students showed a correlation between how awake they felt and their preference for music or silence. Results indicated a positive effect while listening to classical music (Jones, West, & Estell, 69). This effect has become known as the Classical Effect, which proposes that listening to classical music can increase spatial abilities. The proposed increase in the construction of alpha waves may result in positive learning ability. Other studies on the classical music, however, have produced inconsistent results, often showing no significant increase in cognitive abilities. Although the results have been ambiguous, the relationship between music and learning still remains of interest to many researchers, especially to educators and others involved in the teaching profession.

The upsurge in the technology of music playing devices has made a phenomenon out of listening to music while participating in daily activities. Music is a common part of our everyday routine. It is played in the car, stores and supermarkets, professional and medical offices and more. It has also been found that many students study and do homework while listening to music. A study done by Hallam (17) showed that elementary school students who listened to mood-calming music while completing mathematical problems were able to complete more problems and solve a higher percentage of them correctly than the group who listened to no music at all.

Bowman (92) also came across this in a similar study looking at whether classical music enhanced receiving ability; namely, listening comprehension. He tested whether students learned more in the classroom by listening to classical music before class started. Many other studies have shown that easy listening, such as classical or instrumental soundtracks can promote cognitive performance (Wilson 115). However, such studies fail to include groups exposed to mainstream popular music.

Researchers have believed for years that music can stimulate brain development. According to the Classical Effect, the idea is that infants and young children can benefit from early music exposure and training (Caulfield 88). The initial study of the classical music done by Francis Raucher & Gordon Shaw (71) focused on college students, not infants, which they claimed to be the main reason for the study. Data collected from the study indicated that subjects who listened to classical music improved their performance on IQ spatial reasoning tasks but this effect wore off after only 10 minutes (Caulfield 13).

Their theory stated that there was “significant, temporary, shortened spatial reasoning gains just from listening to classical music rather than other types of music (Caulfield, 36). Although there was proof of gains in shortened spatial reasoning, the research findings also made people question whether music only affects short-term reasoning or if it does in fact help create long-term success for children. Davies (59) explained that optimal learning occurs when the two hemispheres of the brain work together. Any leaching strategy, such as music, that integrates the functions of both hemispheres uses the natural design of the brain to make learning easier, faster, and more fun. Technically speaking, when both halves of our brain are working in synch or in collaboration with one another learning is optimized, thus allowing children to take in what is happening more efficiently.

Although the benefits of music are often questioned, there is evidence to suggest that music does create higher brain functioning in those familiar with music in general. However, research shows that complex brain functioning is more dominant in music professionals (who work with and understand music and all of its components) as opposed to novices, but there is evidence to prove that higher brain functioning is apparent in both types (Reimer, 93). Reimer (93) stated that of central importance to music education is that all musical engagements whether at the level of novice or professional channel the way from young children to seasoned veterans- activate both brain hemispheres and involve cerebral cortex activity and memory retrieval mechanisms


Many researchers have disputed that classical music affect’s cognitive development. Often, people will challenge the idea that classical music can lead to an enhancement of higher brain functioning. However, it has been demonstrated, through varied use of music that people benefit from music’s impact on both hemispheres of the brain, which make learning easier.

Based on the previous resources, this research will focus on the various effects of classical music with regard to cognitive development. The action study will be based on classical music integration at the elementary level (specifically tutelage echelon) and its impact on learning and motivation of a Nigerian child. The goal of this research study is to investigate the relationship between classical music and cognitive development (brain growth) with regard to children learning and motivation within the tutelage settings.

Also, this research intends to find out if there exists an association between classical music and IQ development. According to research done using six to e1even-year-olds, it was found that there was a positive association between duration of music lessons and lQ. In the study, students ranging in age were given music lessons for various lengths of time. The study results documented that children who were exposed to music lessons saw slight improvement in cognitive ability but the results were long lasting among those children (Schellenberg, 209). Schellenberg (47) also added that, musical training leads to improved performance on a wide variety of tasks involving music perception and cognition. The current research will draw on this previous work by concentrating of classical music.


The following are the objectives of this study:

  1. To examine the association between classical music and cognitive development of the Nigerian child.
  2. To find out the relationship between classical music and cognitive development of the Nigerian child.
  3. To analyze the attributes of classical music that enhances cognitive development in the Nigerian child.


  1. What is the association between classical music and cognitive development of the Nigerian child?
  2. What is the relationship between classical music and cognitive development of the Nigerian child?
  3. What are the attributes of classical music that enhances cognitive development in the Nigerian child?

1.5       HYPOTHESES

HO1: There is no significant association between classical music and cognitive development of the Nigerian child

HO2: There is no significant relationship between classical music and cognitive development of the Nigerian child

HO3: There are no attributes of classical music that enhances cognitive development in the Nigerian child


The following are the significance of the study:

  1. The outcome of this research will form a useful educational guide for educational administrators, stakeholders, education managers, policy makers and the general public on the effects of classical music on the cognitive development of the Nigerian child. The results will also expose the specific attributes of classical music that enhances the cognitive development of the Nigerian child.
  2. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.


This study will cover the pupils in tutelage classes in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. It will also cover several lessons involving the use of classical music.


Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


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