Teachers have known for years that music plays an important role in the development of children. Research is now backing it up.
Researchers have found that young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year compared to children who do not receive musical training. Dr Laurel Trainor, Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior at McMaster University said, "Children studying music for a year improved in musical listening skills more than children not studying music is perhaps not very surprising. On the other hand, it is very interesting that the children taking music lessons improved more over the year on general memory skills that are correlated with non-musical abilities such as literacy, verbal memory, visuospatial processing, mathematics and IQ than did the children not taking lessons. It suggests that musical training is having an effect on how the brain gets wired for general cognitive functioning related to memory and attention."
Dr Laurel Trainor, Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior at McMaster University
In a similar study published in Newsweek magazine, research indicated that during the early developmental years, children's brain neurons are being "wired". This provides a window of opportunity which must not be missed if children are to achieve their full potential. "Circuits in different regions of the brain mature at different times. As a result, different circuits are most sensitive to life's experiences at different ages. Give your children the experiences they need when they need it and anything's possible. Stumble and all bets are off."
The Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit founded by Margaret Martin, provides free music lessons to low-income students living in gang neighborhoods. Martin noticed several years ago that many of the music students in her program were not only graduating high school, but were going on to attend notable universities like UCLA and Tulane. These students were beating the odds on a regular basis, compared to their peers in the neighborhoods where they lived. She wondered why.
Northwestern University researchers tracked 44 Harmony Project’s students over two years. The study showed evidence of very measurable changes in the brain. The researchers believe that musical training caused these changes, and in turn students were able to process sounds more easily. Their enhanced skills directly translated to improved speech and reading skills.
The Journal of Neuroscience
Congratulations parents for supporting your child's musical education!