Music should be central to the school curriculum because it helps improve children's health and well-being, a study has found.
Professor Susan Hallam, from the Institute of Education at the University of London, said music was as important as English or maths.
Learning to play an instrument has a clear impact on improving intelligence, she said.
But she warned parents not to force their teenage children to practise because this can lead even the most talented youngsters to give up.
"Music exerts a powerful impact on our lives and is as important for a well-rounded education as reading, writing and maths," she said.
"Learning to play an instrument has demonstrable effects on intelligence and, when children play music together, teaches them about co-operation and working together."
Music helps concentration, aids relaxation and can influence moods and emotions, her study found.
It can calm or arouse and help overcome anger, despair and other powerful emotions.
Professor Hallam suggested that music could be a good source of support for troubled teenagers.
Singing helps young children with language development and can help physical co-ordination.
Professor Hallam said it was worrying that teachers had to fight to get music properly recognised in schools.
She added: "Music should play an important part in early years education, not least because making and listening to music are rewarding for children as well as adults."
Her study, Music Psychology in Education, to launched today, presents research on subjects including the origins of music and the development of musical appreciation in the womb.
The study also includes tips for parents. Professor Hallam said: "Children's dedication to music needs to be internalised before adolescence if they are to become committed.
"If the parent continues to supervise practice in the teenage years, it is likely to lead to resentment and the most talented children may give up playing." ..SUPL: