13 July 1997
A Fun Way To Teach Your 2-Year-Old to Sight-Read &
Play Music And Expand the Core of His Intellectual
The bulk of the following article was written in October,
1989 and published in SALT in 1990, but the crucial event concerning it
may be said to have occurred in early February, 1995.
I have never met Washington Post reporter Susan Okie, but
I am eternally grateful to her. Without her "Science Notebook" for 2/6/95
having crossed my desk, I would have missed entirely:
1) The publication in Science February 3, 1995, of
Gottfried Schlaug, Lutz Jancke, Yanxiong Huang, and Helmuth Steinmetz: "In
Vivo Evidence of Structural Brain Asymmetry in Musicians."
2) The crucial footnote which cited studies I had missed
demonstrating that the crucial trait, musical perfect pitch, basis of
Schlaug's article, is trainable. It's one thing to know that perfect pitch
is trainable because of your own personal experience and because of the
by-product of the method described below. It's another to see the formal
study cited which demonstrates that fact and tells one that he is not
alone on some of the important issues. This had to be buried among the
footnotes where editors and peers at Science wouldn't catch it, because
Science wouldn't be caught dead publishing the out-of-paradigm fact that
human intelligence can be profoundly improved, regardless of whatever
evidence. In the Schlaug paper, the key footnote is # 20, citing D.
Sergeant (1969), A. Bacham (1975), C./L. Krumhansi (1991), and others in a
series of studies demonstrating the trainability of what has always been
assumed to be a "born" trait, like intelligence itself has for so long
been so considered to be.
3) The whole body of important work going forward at
Dusseldorf University by Schlaug and his colleagues.
As you will see below, we had taken an interest in musical
development during early childhood because our theory of building up
crosslinks in the brain ("Pole-Bridging") told us that children who
sight-read and played music, as distinct from only playing music at an
early age a la Suzuki Method, would enjoy great intellectual advantage
over their counterparts.
I knew of the many powerful advantages conveyed when
children learn to read the printed word at an early, pre-school, age. The
methods which achieved that at age 2 years, 1 year, often 6 months of age,
had to be pleasant games - you couldn't push" a child 2 years or younger
into reading. So, figuring that the younger the child, the greater the
developmental boost to the brain also for learning to sight-read and play
music, I wondered out loud to Susan, my brilliant and creative wife, what
kind of game method might be invented to achieve that combination of
skills for children one and two years old. She told me! The method
published below is her invention.
--But the best was yet to come.
1) The incidental by-product of her method, published in
1989-90, is that the children so taught develop not only relative but
perfect musical pitch.
2) The Dusseldorf Study, published by Schlaug in Science
Feb. 3, 1995, demonstrates that people who have perfect musical pitch also
have a left plenum temporales which is physically double the size
of that crucial organ in the brains of ordinary people!!! Part of our
word-processing left temporal lobe, the left plenum temporales is
the part of your brain which handles nuances of word-meanings, and so is
the very core of your intellect!
This core organ of intellect is not only physically larger
in people who enjoy perfect pitch - it is so much larger that it is
physically double in volume that of people who don't have perfect pitch.
That is a huge, profound physical difference, utterly astonishing to see
in terms of the physical brain, and has to convey enormous intellectual
We had not sought to create perfect pitch - until
Schlaug's study I had considered perfect pitch a mixed blessing at best. I
am cursed with it, in that ensemble groups and choral groups I've been
part of, seem to love to transpose for the convenience of one member or
another the music into different keys. Hence, I had to transpose back in
my mind as we went - no problem for those without such pitch; probably no
problem for the many whose musical skills vastly exceed mine - but a major
bother for me. However, I've also felt that somehow my musical perfect
pitch was a key part of my quick ability to understand what other people
are saying or leading up to.
- - People with perfect pitch have a profoundly superior
left plenum temporales and intellect.
- - Following is much of the text of the article
describing a simple method to create, among other things, perfect pitch
in young children from an early age.
- - Do this for your child, grandchild, niece/nephew or
the kid next door and you create for him or her a tremendous, wonderful
intellectual advantage and basis of life understanding.
Training Music Sight-Reading and
Perfect Pitch in Young Children,
As a Way to Enhance Their
Win Wenger, Ph.D. and
Gaithersburg, MD 20884
Abstract: The following paper suggests an experimental
program for easily training children, ages 1-5 years, to sight-read and
play music and to gain relative or perfect pitch. By integrating phase
relationships between widely separate, key regions of the brain, the
writers propose an easy, game-like procedure that will significantly
increase the lifetime intelligence of children.
As simply as this:
- 1. Face the young child away from the piano or other
keyboard instrument, as part of a game.
- 2. Sound a single note on the piano, while saying (or
singing) the name of the note - "A," "B," or whatever. (Flats and sharps
can be introduced a little later in this training, other than being
named when hit during the child's "miss.")
- 3. The game is to have the young child turn to the
keyboard and try to hit the same note on the keyboard - on first try if
possible. When s/he strikes a single note, say or sing the name of the
note s/he struck - but the correct "hits" then get reinforced with
laughter, applause, hair-tousle, hug or whatever is reinforcing for that
child in that context in a light-hearted kind of way. The "misses" are
part of the game but are less reinforced - too absolute a
non-reinforcement would be another kind of reinforcement and make the
game less light-hearted.
- 4. At the start of each round, set a 3" or 56" or
larger card vertically on the music rack above the keyboard, just a
short segment of base and treble clef bars upon which rides,
prominently, the note you're about to hit.
Don't point out the card. Just change the card each time
to the next note you're about to hit. It may be immediately, or it may be
several hours (spaced, of course, over several weeks at 2 to 5 minutes of
this game each day or so), before the child catches on that the card has
something to do with the note you are hitting. Only when s/he asks about
it do you minimally explain that where the note is on the card, shows
where the note is on the keyboard. Now the child has both eye and ear to
help guide him or her on the keyboard.
After the child has the first game well in hand
(including, eventually, those sharps and flats): you can do the same thing
with sequences of 2 and 3 notes. Once that skill is well in hand, simple
tunes will make sense to the child and be well within his/her competence
to likewise pick out and play. Likewise combinations of notes, chords.
Likewise the game of which other note most sounds like this one, as
developing the sense of octaves.
From there, the child will be well equipped to take full
advantage of conventional music training if desired, or of Suzuki
training, now widely available and which is excellent for developing
playing skills and attitudes. If you use Suzuki, though, continue to
reinforce the sight reading on the side or at home, since Suzuki training
does not teach sight reading until much later and it'd be a pity to waste
the reading skills already developed. Even without such follow-up musical
training, though, a major boost to the child's intelligence will have been
accomplished by the above game.
Children too young (or developmentally too young) to as
yet be able to pick out a single key on a conventional keyboard, may be
able to do so with full benefits by being started on a special keyboard
whose individual keys are broader, so long as its pitch is true.
(The above technique was created by Susan Wenger during
Purpose of this technique:
The purpose of this technique and game is not that of
training the child to become a musician. That may indeed often develop,
and a musical perception and background make for a far richer and more
rewarding lifetime experience. --But the purpose here is not that of
making the child into a musician.
The purpose of training perfect pitch and music sight
reading skills, in children between ages one and five years old, is to
substantially improve their intellectual intelligence for a
We predict that normal children ages 1 to 5 years will,
within several years, average no less than ten to thirty points "I.Q."
higher, similar to though not quite so strong as the gains made from
another brain-building procedure, Image Streaming as discussed below. In
very young children who Image-Stream, sharp gains are observed
immediately. In older children and in adults, and in most developmentally
young people of any chronological age, such gains are also substantial but
gradual, though these gains continue developing for some time beyond the
interval during which Image Streaming was practiced. Since the structure
of brain process in Image Streaming is so similar in principle to that of
the sight-reading and playing of music, we can expect the patterns of gain
to likely be similar.
Even in adults and college students, the eventual gains
from Image Streaming, per eighty minutes of practice, accumulate at the
rate of a full point I.Q., so we expect substantial gains with some form
of this sight-reading training procedure even with older children.
However, the greatest and most immediate gains may be expected with
children who are so young that most of their habits and short-cuts for
perceiving and thinking have not yet been formed and who, for that reason,
can obtain the most benefit from a given amount of such
Why should training to sight-read bring any benefit in
terms of intellectual skills or intelligence? Can an early experience in
music relate somehow to later academic abilities?
Why are people who learn, early in childhood, to
sight-read and play music, usually several standard deviations above
average in intelligence? It's long been assumed that they had an inborn
natural "gift" - most of which, of course, are never developed. Early
economic and cultural disadvantage can be a preventing factor, though ours
is an information-pervasive environment. There definitely do appear to be
some instances of special "gift." Recent discoveries, however, point
toward early musical development itself being a main cause of this
subsequent higher intelligence, not merely a co-by-product of social
privilege or the magic wand of a "genius gene."
Discovery of Brain-Integrative
The phenomenon of Image Streaming (defined below), was
discovered early in 1975. From that time on, we observed that the practice
of Image Streaming enriches the intelligence of its practitioners. In
1984, we developed a simple hypothesis to account for this increase in
intelligence (as set forth below). In spring of 1989, with the results of
the Reinhert Studies, which formally measured and are measuring some of
the effects of Image Streaming on physics students at Southwest State
University, this hypothesis, called "Pole-Bridging," became a supported
Image Streaming is the practice of letting oneself become
aware of the spontaneous free-flow, free-association, visual mental
imagery which is going on all the time as a reflection of unconscious
perceptions, thoughts and understandings. Part of this practice also is
the describing of these images aloud while examining them. To be
effective, this describing bust be out loud, to an external focus - a
person as a listener, or to a tape recorder as potential
This is quite different from the directed imagery which is
familiar to many people and programs. Image Streaming, being undirected,
when brought conscious constantly surprises the viewer with unexpected
images and associations,. This imagery appears to arise in other,
subtler-signalling regions of the brain. This different location is
significant in giving rise to higher intelligence, according to the theory
of Pole Bridging.
This constantly ongoing stream of images is usually
unconscious, but virtually every person can readily self-train or be
trained to bring this resource stream conscious./ That general ease of
training, in turn. makes Image Streaming an excellent candidate for any
program which seeks to improve the intelligence of large numbers of
people. In the aforementioned study, students who practiced Image
Streaming as an enrichment outside of class, gained in general
intelligence at a rate of a full point's "I.Q." per eighty minutes of
practice, with substantial increase for 25 hours of practice, among other
Pole-Bridging - Combines in expressive form the activities
and/or perceptions which are characteristic of widely separate regions of
the brain. One should involve these perceptions or activities closely
together, for an immediacy of experience feedbacks which forces those
widely separate regions of the brain to work closely together.
--In Image Streaming, the left temporal and parietal lobes
(expressive and articulative, and specific associative) are caused to work
closely with the right temporal lobe (making general sense), and with wide
additional regions of the brain including apparently the right optic
chiasm at the rear of the brain.
--In the above method for developing both sight reading
and music playing skills and relative or perfect pitch. much of the motor
cortex is involved with the left temporal (reading recognition), the right
temporal (music and aesthetic response), and with wide-ranging auditory
regions of the brain. In addition one of the writers, who enjoys perfect
pitch, speculates that this automatic ready-made auditory orientation
becomes a great help to all the areas of the brain which make sense out of
or otherwise sort out sounds. / (This hypothesis, concerning effects of
perfect pitch, might eventually be tested by bio-instrumented comparison
of the brain behaviors of persons with and without perfect pitch, in
response to diverse auditory stimuli.)
Obviously, causing widely separate regions of the brain to
work closely together, by building up communication between those regions,
will cause the resources of each such region to become more available to
the operations proceeding in the other regions. This is a factor in the
improved intelligence observed to follow such Pole-Bridging activities. A
still more significant issue in Pole-Bridging, though, is the factor of
Phase Relationships concern the length of time between
when one part of the brain receives a stimulus and when other parts of the
brain become involved in the processing of that stimulus.
Significance of Phase Relationships (in Pole-Bridging
All of the brain sooner or later lights up on any major
stimulus. The length of time before this happens, though, is the critical
issue. Ertl, Herrmann, and others have consistently found for decades,
that closely integrated phase relationships between left and right
hemispheres, at least, are associated with higher intelligence; wide lags
with lower levels of intelligence. One of the writers found this same
relationship, left-right, in studies he performed on his own students
during 1969-70 and again in 1970 in testing eight pre-identified
If there is too great a delay between the time when some
initial part(s) of the brain get(s) that stimulus and the rest of the
brain thence receives that stimulus, then the first part completes its
operations and writes close-out instructions into that stimulus as it is
passed along into the rest of the brain. (In effect, the first part says,
"That's the way it was done, folks!" and the rest of the brain, saying
"Yeah," shuts down.)
If the phase relationship is closer, however, other parts
of the brain are reverberating with the first on that stimulus before the
first has completed its processing. What results then is a much more
involved set of instructions getting written into that stimulus as it is
passed along into the rest of the brain. (In effect: "Here's what we've
come up with so far, folks, but there's this to be checked out, that to be
investigated, with such-&-such still to be found out!")
A brain so instructed does many more things, and much more
involved things, with that stimulus. Consequently:
A person with well-integrated, tight phase relationships
(not only left-right but, apparently, in all directions within the brain)
will characteristically sense more relationships, and perceive more and
richer meanings with that stimulus and generally. --In other words, be
considerably more intelligent.
The Reinert Study (1989, 1990 op.cit.)/ supported
this theory of phase relationships and Pole Bridging, in 3
- 1. The overt, overall gain in intelligence of Image
Streamers at a rate of a full point "I.Q." per eighty minutes of easy
home practice - a considerably greater rate of gain in intelligence than
by other means thus far studied.
- 2. In perceptual and learning styles, the students who
Image Streaming zipped strongly and immediately into integrated balance
of brain functions, as measured on the Kolb. Students who enriched with
a different method, moved sharply further toward extreme imbalance, as
most college physics students do during their course of study.
- 3. The combination, of viewing these inner images
and describing them aloud, was crucial to the outcome. Those students in
the Reinert (1989) study who did everything else in the procedure but
did not describe aloud those images to a listener or to a tape recorder,
not only did not gain as much as those who did so: they showed no gain
whatever during the interval of the experiment. It is the combination of
these regions of the brain which is significant in increasing
intelligence, and in the other benefits associated with Image Streaming
or other forms of Pole-Bridging.
[Ed. note, 2007 Regrettably, the Reinert study was not completed and was thus statistically inadequate. Therefore we've temporarily withdrawn the statement that the intelligence gain was scientifically proven, although the rate of gain reported does match our incidental observations.]
With modern PET-Scan, CAT-Scan, blood-flow imaging and
other equipment, it should be far easier than ever before to test further
the theory: that to integrate phase relationships between various regions
of the brain by Pole-Bridging between those regions, combining those
regions' several activities into some expressive form which yields
immediate experiential feedback, increases intelligence.
Relationship to the proposed early training of music
skills in young children:
As an excellent further test of the Pole Bridging theory,
we suggest a longitudinal study of intellect and intelligence in young
children taught as described at the start of this paper, compared with
closely matched children not so taught. Such musical Pole-Bridging
integrates brain behaviors which are very different from those of Image
Streaming, and brain regions which are somewhat different. If the
behaviors so integrated are different and intelligence still increases
substantially, then the common factor causing the increase will be the
integration of diverse brain functions - the dynamic principle, not just
the particular brain behaviors which happened to be combined in the one
lucky technique of Image Streaming.
The prediction is that young children who learn these
music skills by such a method will enjoy more than 10 points I.Q.
advantage over children who are not so trained. To be frank, this average
advantage in intelligence could well be upwards of 30 points I.Q. - with
all which this can mean in terms of a lifetime of enriched experience and
in terms of potential contribution to our society and culture.
If this prediction is confirmed in the context of music
training, that should cause a significant increase in public support for
the arts and for arts education. As already shown at the start of the
(music sight-reading article segment of this) paper, this particular
procedure is certainly simple and easy enough to make testing this
proposed experiment feasible for any reasonably competent musician, music
teacher or music education program which can also arrange access to the
appropriate child-level I.Q. tests. Even ordinary parents, siblings or
tutors who at least know musical notation should be able to conduct this
Such further confirmation, from another context, of the
Pole Bridging Theory, should encourage further investigation and
development of this theory. Given the great number of diverse brain
functions, and of the identified regions of the brain where some of these
functions are localized, it should soon be feasible to create 10,000
different specific Pole Bridging techniques, each effective in increasing
intelligence, or as therapies and/or remediations.
[We abridge the foregoing article at this point, to better
pursue the goals of this present paper. Please note that although the
contents of the foregoing were touched up for editorial purposes of
readability, their meaning was unchanged and, in particular, the
predictions made then were not in any way "touched up" but appear as they
were published in 1990.]
The gist: Image-Streaming, and this easy game form of
teaching young children sight-reading, both express activities of widely
separate regions of the brain. When those activities are expressed
together in such forms, immediate feedback induces these widely separate
regions of the brain to work more closely together, with improved phase
relationships. This results in cumulatively higher
--This apart from, and in addition to, the intelligence
gains to be obtained from training perfect pitch, an accidental by-product
of the Susan Wenger method of training sight-reading, which expand the
size and powers of the word-meanings-involved left plenum
When the hard physical evidence of cat-scans et al
demonstrates that incredible doubling in physical size of the brain's main
organ for intellectual understanding, how can anyone of conscience go on
letting our present schools and home practices lay such terrible waste to
our own children's minds? Please let us hear from you, at the Talkback link provided below.
Gifted Computer Games Programmer wanted: to work on
spec, own part of the results. We have outlines for a computer game to
develop in preschoolers inner musical skills to Mozart-like level; also
for another game to teach preschoolers in weeks of fun a quantity-sense,
number sense, relationships-sense, and the whole of arithmetic and
secondary school level math. Why make 12 years of drudgery and misery out
of what can be accomplished to far higher level in a few playful, joyous
weeks? The music program would implement advanced versions of the above
Susan Wenger Method (1) to a far finer degree than even gifted musician
parents could normally take it; (2) bring these advantages within reach of
all children and not just those of parents who can themselves sight-read
and play music and are alive enough to want to share that with their
children. Please get in touch with us at the above address(es), and/or
bring this to the attention of those of your friends who are gifted
computer games programmers. Thank you.