Far transfer between music education and other cognitive skills, such as academic achievement, has been widely examined. However, the results of studies within similar cognitive domains are found to be inconclusive or contradictory. These differences can be traced back to the analytical methods used, differences in the forms of music education studied and differences in neural activation during the processing of these tasks. In order to gain a better picture of the relationships involved, a literature survey was performed in leading databases, such as PubMed/MedLine, psychINFO, ScienceDirect, Embase, ERIC, ASSIA and Jstor from January 2001 to January 2013. All studies included, concerned the far transfer from music education to other cognitive skills in children aged 4-13 years as compared with controls. These studies were independently selected and their quality was assessed by two authors. This systematic review shows the need to address methodological and analytical questions in greater detail. There is a general need to unify methods used in music education research. Furthermore, the hypothesis that intellectual skills, such as mathematics, reading, writing and intelligence can be divided into sub-functions, needs to be examined as one approach to the problems considered here. When this has been done, detailed analysis of cognitive transfer from music education to other disciplines should become possible. © 2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.