Music makes you smarter: A new paradigm? Perceptions and perspectives from four groups of elementary education stakeholders


  • John Luke Vitale Nipissing University


Through 14 years of teaching music in the Greater Toronto Area, the “music makes you smarter” notion has imbued many of the conversations I have had with multiple stakeholders in public education. Such conversations have suggested that the ancillary benefits of teaching music have now become the principal reason why we teach music -- what I refer to as a new paradigm shift in music education. This study attempts to validate my own experiences through a sample size of 100 participants and a multiple methods approach to inquiry. Specifically, this study explores the perceptions and perspectives of the “music makes you smarter” notion by four groups of stakeholders in elementary education, namely; music teachers, students, parents, and non-music teachers. With a few exceptions, both quantitative and qualitative data have generated perceptions and perspectives that validate the “music makes you smarter” notion, suggesting that my own experiences of a paradigm shift within music education in the GTA were indeed authentic and valid. This paper ends with a discussion on the ramifications of this new paradigm shift and ultimately argues that the music itself should be the focus of music education.

Key words: Music Education, Paradigm Shift, Perceptions, Perspectives, & Mixed Methods

Author Biography

John Luke Vitale, Nipissing University

Dr. John L. Vitale is currently an Assistant Professor of Education in the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University (Brantford Campus) where he instructs teacher candidates in the Bachelor of Education Concurrent Program. In addition, Dr. Vitale has also taught for both Public and Catholic School Boards in Ontario for 14 years, including two years at the elementary level and 12 years at the secondary school level, and also served as Department Head of the Arts at Victoria Park Collegiate Institute in Toronto. As a bass player, Dr. Vitale has toured and professionally recorded with Juno Award winner Robert Michaels and has over 500 professional performances with 2-time Juno Award winner Liberty Silver. He also has numerous compositional credits, including the score to award-winning children's animated film Attic-in-the-Blue (first place winner at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival).



How to Cite

Vitale, J. L. (2011). Music makes you smarter: A new paradigm? Perceptions and perspectives from four groups of elementary education stakeholders. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne De l’éducation, 34(3), 317–343. Retrieved from