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Mr Müllensiefen, How Does Music Make Children Smarter?

In retrospect, Daniel Müllensiefen cannot gauge to what extent his youthful guitar strumming influenced his intellectual development, but one thing he does know: “Music makes me happier and more contented.” He still plays the guitar when he finds time alongside work and three young children. And he certainly cannot complain about a lack of success at his job.

  • By Kristin Hüttmann
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Dr Daniel Müllensiefen from Goldsmiths College, University of London, United Kingdom, is an Anneliese Maier Research Award Winner cooperating with the Hanover University of Music, Drama and the Media.

Daniel Müllensiefen

The music psychologist from the University of London is a soughtafter expert when it comes to investigating the impact of music on people. He invented a test for measuring musicality: the Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index (Gold-MSI), which has become a standard tool in musical research. He also made a name for himself with computer analysis for detecting plagiarism and earworms, tunes you get on the brain. Together with his colleagues in Hanover, Müllensiefen now wants to discover how engagement with music shapes children and teenagers – their personalities, intelligence and social skills. “We intend to spend at least five years observing natural development from Year 5 onwards.” A kind of musical PISA survey.

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“Making music trains the memory, concentration and perception. This helps children’s entire development,” says the music researcher. Above all, music is supposed to be fun and should be pursued for its own sake – because, according to Müllensiefen, “Music is not a competitive sport”.

published in Humboldt Kosmos 106/2016

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