How’s your fluid intelligence?

If you’re a musically trained person, your fluid intelligence is probably highly developed! But what is fluid intelligence?

Fluid intelligence is the ability to think abstractly and solve problems. The authors in this study (see link) explain that fluid intelligence is a set of “skills that are highlighted in musical training, in which successful performance may depend on a combination of fast perceptual processing (e.g. listening), maintaining a large quantity of information in working memory at one time (e.g. repeating a musical phrase), quickly comprehending a complex symbolic system (e.g. reading music), multitasking (e.g. reading while playing, while watching a conductor), and reasoning (e.g. predicting a chord progression), and more.” (p.3).

This study found that expert musicians had significantly higher levels of fluid intelligence.

But how much music learning is needed to make our fluid intelligence work at a very high level? This study found that expert musicians had significantly higher levels of fluid intelligence. This was in comparison to musicians who started learning on average at the age of 12 and learned for between 3 & 4 years and a group of non-musicians.

You can see from the diagram below that music experts performed better on every test but it is important to ask, what did the researchers classify as a music expert and a music amateur?


Music Experts fit into the following criteria; began formal musical training at age 10 or younger; practiced music for 10 years or longer; rated self sight-reading skills at 3 of 5 or higher on a Likert scale; rated self-improvisation skill at 3 of 5 or higher on a Likert scale. Music Amateurs were classified as participants with more than one year of musical training but who did not otherwise fit the criteria for musical expert.

So where do you fit on the expert vs amateur scale as per this study and how’s your fluid intelligence going today?

You can read the article here

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