Emotional intelligence — or emotional quotient (EQ) — is a lot like your IQ (intelligence quotient), but instead of assessing your smarts, it looks at your emotions. Basically, emotional intelligence indicates how well you can recognize and use your emotions. More schools are integrating emotional intelligence learning into their programs to help children perform better in the classroom. One way to do this is to incorporate music-related studies into the curriculum, as research has shown a very close relationship between emotional intelligence and music.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence refers to your ability to perceive emotions and assess them. This includes your ability to understand emotions, read others’ emotions, and regulate your own. Most people hadn’t seriously considered the concept of emotional intelligence until 1995, when best-selling author Daniel Goleman released his book, Emotional Intelligence. In it, Goleman mentions that emotional intelligence involves self-awareness, self-discipline, and empathy.
Though some people are born with a natural ability to get along with others, you don’t necessarily need to be born with these skills to have a high EQ — emotional intelligence can be taught. Emotional learning allows students to gain confidence, learn how to motivate themselves, understand how to influence their own emotions, and learn how to empathize with others.
EQ researchers have found that emotional intelligence actually helps us think. Strong emotional skills allow us to make better decisions and become aware of our surroundings. All of this leads to stronger friendships, increased academic achievement, and a reduction in risky behaviors. Not only is emotional intelligence beneficial to young students, but it sticks with them as they age, allowing them to grow their career, build strong relationships, and stay healthy.
How Does It Relate to Academic Achievement?
Many people — including parents and teachers — wonder if teaching emotional skills truly has a place in school. When you think about emotions and empathy, you probably associate these skills with interacting with others and making friends, but that’s only a small part of the picture. Another aspect of EQ is becoming aware of ourselves and our own emotions, and being able to control them to foster success.
That’s where emotional intelligence really plays a role in academics. Research shows that students who learn social and emotional skills are better behaved in the classroom, have better attendance records, enjoy school more, and have a higher GPA. One 2004 study of 667 high school students showed that those who scored high in emotional intelligence also scored high in academic performance. The students who performed better academically also showed greater interpersonal competency, adaptability, and stress management, which are all indicators of EQ.
According to the research, teachers feel that self-science — the scientific study of the self — increases cooperation and improves classroom relationships. Most also say that these types of programs increase student focus, learning, collaborative work, and positive verbal statements. But it’s not just about academic performance. These self-science (or emotional intelligence) programs have also been proven to decrease aggression, increase peer acceptance, and decrease discipline problems.
How Music Can Help
Studies have shown that children who practice music perform better academically. Those in a music program score better on language and social-emotional tests. They are also more efficient in motor and cognitive assessments. This connection is likely because music ties into emotional intelligence.
Music Influences Emotions
Music can directly impact how you feel. It can excite you, make you feel happy or sad, and help you relax. Listening to music also has a direct impact on your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Psych Central says “music is far more powerful than language” because it extends beyond our cultural or physical differences. While learning to play music may seem similar to learning a language, “music is more rooted in the primitive brain structures that are involved in motivation, reward and emotion.” Even children who have yet to develop their language skills can use music to learn about emotions, soothe their moods, and increase their focus. Because of the way music affects emotions, children are able to “hear” the feelings around them; they can learn which types of music evoke certain emotions, allowing them to get in touch with their own feelings.
Music Helps You Focus
Nature.com reports on a 2014 study that showed that “listening to a favorite song alters the connectivity between auditory brain areas and the hippocampus, a region responsible for memory and social emotion consolidation.” In other words, listening to your favorite songs can help you focus on your own thoughts and emotions. This can apply to both listening to and playing music.
Studies have also found a connection between music and memory. For example, people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have used music they were once familiar with to successfully bring back memories that seemed lost to them. These findings explain why children can use music to learn and remember concepts more easily – by singing tunes related to science, math, or language.
Music Creates a Social Environment
Music is often learned, played, or practiced in a social environment, allowing students to hone their interpersonal and emotional skills. Shared musical skills or interests can bring children together who previously didn’t realize they had anything in common. Research shows that learning music helps to instill a sense of confidence when children dance or play an instrument, provide an emotional outlet, and allow for self-expression.
Music can also expose students to differences in other times and cultures, and encourage them to appreciate these differences — which can lead to higher levels of empathy, tying directly back to emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
Emotional intelligence is undoubtedly important to a child’s growth, and more schools are recognizing this. It’s important that children learn how to recognize and influence their emotions and the emotions of others, and music is a fun and accessible way to encourage these skills in children. Educators should consider bringing music – whether listening or playing it – into their curriculum to grow students’ emotional intelligence; and thereby foster their intelligence and intellectual growth in other areas as well.
| Submit Your Tip |
Have You Seen
Like what you've found?
Get creative and free teacher articles - delivered to your inbox weekly.
p.s. A bonus pack of 11 printable classroom posters are headed your way!