Music lessons make children more clever. Neuro-psychologists who studied Dutch primary school children found that after two-and-a-half years those who studied music had significantly higher cognitive skills than those who didn’t.

The research also suggested that visual art lessons improve children’s visual and spatial memory.

Lead author Dr Artur Jaschke‚ from Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam‚ said the children who had theoretical and practical music lessons showed improved language-based reasoning‚ short-term memory‚ planning and inhibition.

"This suggests the cognitive skills developed during music lessons can influence children’s cognitive abilities in completely unrelated subjects‚ leading to overall improved academic performance‚" he said.

Children who had art classes significantly improved their visual and spatial short-term memory compared with their peers.

The researchers hope their study‚ which looked at 147 children in six schools‚ adds weight to arguments about the value of music and art in primary education. "We hope this study will support political developments to re-integrate music and arts education into schools around the world‚" said Jaschke‚ who reported his work in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Music education is in decline globally due to competition with academic studies and lack of funding. The researchers hope to show that it has an important place in learning. Dutch authorities have already been persuaded to re-introduce music and art into the general curriculum at all schools by 2020.