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Do music lessons make you smarter?

Practice makes progress, if not perfection, for most things in life. Generally, practicing a skill—be it basketball, chess or the tuba—mostly makes you better at whatever it was you practiced. Even related areas do not benefit much. Doing intensive basketball drills does not usually make a person particularly good at football. Chess experts are not necessarily fabulous at math, and tuba players can’t just put down their tubas and pick up cellos.

That said, some learning does transfer from one skill to another. If you play a lot of basketball, you might be physically fit and also have discerned rules about ball movement and how to work with a team—which could be useful for playing other sports. Younger players who master chess notation learn something about coordinates, which show up in math. And tuba lessons often require or include instruction reading music, knowledge that comes in handy for the cello as well.

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