The Effect of Vocal Music Training on Spatial Task Performance in Elementary School Children

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a significant difference resulted in the spatial task performance of elementary school students who received vocal music training, versus those students in an attention placebo group who received dramatic arts training, and those in a control group who received no performing arts training. Forty-five children in the third, fourth, or fifth grades were pre-tested on a battery of subtests measuring spatial task performance, and assigned to one of three fifteen-member groups. The battery of subtests related to spatial reasoning included Object Assembly and Block Design from the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, Third Edition; Pattern Completion and Spatial Visualization from the Matrix Analogies Test; and Visual Closure from the Test of Visual-Perceptual Skills. The 29 girls and 16 boys were assigned to either an after-school vocal music training class, a dramatic arts class, or a waitlist. Each group met for eight weekly one-hour sessions, with a final class performance. All students were post-tested on the measures of spatial task performance. Comparison of means, analysis of variance, analysis of covariance, and multiple analysis of variance showed that there was no significant difference between groups on post-hoc spatial task performance. Limitations of the study and other factors that might have influenced results included the duration and intensity of the intervention, the age of the children, and the use of vocal music exclusively in the music training component of intervention.