The effects of piano-keyboard instruction on cognitive abilities of female and male kindergarten children
In several studies, children who received piano instruction achieved better results on spatial-temporal tasks than various control group children did. This difference, though, was not always statistically significant. Gender differences favouring boys in spatial abilities appear to exist in children as young as 4 1/2 years old. However, research linking piano instruction to spatial abilities did not report gender differences. This thesis had three main investigative objectives: to control if children would show significant improvement in cognitive test scores following piano-keyboard instruction; to compare if certain cognitive tasks such as the spatial tasks would show greater improvement than other, non-spatial, tasks; to examine if the effects of pianokeyboard training on spatial tasks are gender differentiated. Sixty-one kindergarten children, aged five to six years, participated in this research receiving two piano-keyboard lessons weekly during the school year 2001-2002. Six subtests from the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children were administered before and after the instruction period. Results revealed that participants improved significantly in the Hand Movements, Gestalt Closure, Triangles, Spatial Memory, and Arithmetic tasks following pianokeyboard instruction. No significant improvement was found in the Matrix Analogies task. Pre-tests in all sub-tests showed no significant gender differences. At post-testing though, boys significantly outperformed girls in the Hand Movements task while their gain scores were significantly higher than girls' scores in the Triangles task. This research has demonstrated that piano-keyboard instruction produced enhanced spatial-temporal test scores in kindergarten children, and that these scores were gender differentiated. These findings are unique in presenting a gender difference in gain scores following piano-keyboard instruction favouring boys. It is hoped that these findings contribute to the growing body of research investigating the extra-musical effects of music instruction and that in the future, kindergarten program administrators might consider music and piano-keyboard instruction as an integral part of kindergarten education.