Music and People Smart – Interpersonal Intelligence

This series of posts explores connections between music and other Gardner-listed multiple intelligences. This post follows on from a description of Music and Emotional Intelligence, and Music and Intra-Personal Intelligence.

What good is math and spelling if the children cannot get along with each other? – Chicago Sun-Times, 2007

In 2007 people in the city of Chicago were becoming increasingly alarmed at the violence and killings among young adults. Why could they not live in harmony? In a series of articles in the Chicago Sun-Times the call was made for more emphasis on teaching people skills. Chicagoans were recognising that their schools’ narrow intellectual educational focus was not working.

Interpersonal intelligence or being ‘people smart’ relates to social awareness and relationships. Skills in these areas improve academic learning and have been verified to be more important than IQ in determining professional and life success. In fact, Daniel Goleman asserts that as much as 80 percent of adult success comes from EQ. Group learning, discussed in detail in chapter five of ‘Learning Strategies for musical Success’, is a natural and successful way to develop these skills and deserves a more prominent role in education. Team sport is a useful medium for teaching these skills but inherently creates division through competition. In music ensemble everyone is on the same team. There is a clear sense of purpose and the involvement is not only physical but in comparison with sport more substantially intellectual, emotional, and spiritual (when the musical genre is sacred). If the goal is to maximise the holistic benefits from group activity, music education leads the way.

Participating in ensemble builds relationships that involve trust and respect. Students and teachers must collaborate and negotiate. The group makes decisions regarding artistic goals, and individuals forfeit personal freedoms for the common good. Open communication, social engagement, cooperation, negotiation, and formal and informal tutoring are all part of a well-run ensemble program. Through group musical experiences, students learn to identify the shared emotion of the music, which creates a special empathy among participants.

An excerpt from ‘Learning Strategies for Musical Success’ by Michael Griffin. Reviews below.

The Music Trust 


American Music Teacher

Ritmico NZ

“Super book. I am so impressed!” – Donna Michaels, USA

“Fantastic book, simply brilliant! – Ian Cooper, Norfolk, UK

“Don’t miss this opportunity!” – Mary George, USA

“Rarely do I come away feeling so inspired. Incredibly beneficial.” – Music Matters Blog

“A must buy for every music teacher and music student” – William Bruce, Teacher of Strings, UK.

“Deeply impressive, the breadth of research is fascinating!” – Robert Chamberlain, Team of Pianists and Monash University Piano Staff, Victoria Australia.

front cover final

“I have read your book and it has made an amazing difference in my teaching and in my studio.” Beth Cruickshank, Past President – Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association.

Amazon UK
Kindle US
Kindle UK
Australia: Contact for direct mail.

Also by Michael Griffin


Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Fundamentals of Notation is a unit of work for general music middle school classes. Designed around the mastering of practical skills, it integrates theory, aural and history, and allows students to progress at their own rate. View Table of Contents.  “This has been a great buy; the books are just superb! Interesting topics with a wide range of pieces. Great content with clear progression of learning. Fascinating teaching philosophy! BRAVO!” -The Grieg Academy, London. Available at

BookCoverPreview Bk 2

Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Let’s Get Creative! is the fun and creative extension to ‘Fundamentals of Notation’.

View Table of Contents. “We have been using your keyboard course and the results have been amazing!”  – St George College, Australia

Available at

BookCover VR

‘Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs’

Second edition. Bumblebee! is more than just a collection of 123 choir exercises and rounds. The author shares timeless wisdom to help you get your choir – primary or secondary – into shape.
View Table of Contents.

“Will prove useful for almost everyone”- Rhinegold Music Teacher Magazine.

“This is a great resource to add to one’s library of rehearsal tricks.”- Anacrusis, ACCC, Canada

harmony bk cover

Modern Harmony Method: Fundamentals of Jazz and Popular Harmony (Third Edition, 2013) is a clear and well organised text suitable for students of arranging and composition, and for classically trained musicians wishing to grasp the beautiful logic of jazz harmony. Essential understandings include chord selection, voicing, symbols, circle of 4th progressions, extensions, suspensions and alterations. Included in the 107 pages are explanations, examples, exercises and solutions. The course can be started with students in year 9 and worked through to year 12 musicianship, composing and arranging.  Available at


Public speaker, music education trainer, conductor and pianist. Author of 'Learning Strategies for Musical Success', 'Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs', and 'Modern Harmony Method'.

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Posted in Emotional intelligence, Multiple Intelligence, Music Education, prep, primary
One comment on “Music and People Smart – Interpersonal Intelligence
  1. GM says:

    Great article as a musician and music educator and Certified Coach this makes sense

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