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How learning music is instrumental in children’s brain development

18th February 2015

The brain is the final frontier of the body. Scientists are performing some exciting research regarding how our brains develop, especially when it comes to music. One of the popular findings is that learning music in early childhood positively affects brain development. Take a look at some of the findings that show how learning music is instrumental in children’s brain development.

The Mozart Effect
The theory that popularized this concept is known as “the Mozart effect.” This theory states that listening to Mozart improves certain short term cognitive functions. Scientists have extrapolated these results to theorize that actually learning music theory increases this boost exponentially and over long periods.

Learning Music Helps to Boost other Skills
Studies have shown that people who play instruments from childhood have above average general reasoning skills and verbal intelligence. Other studies have showed learning music increases fine motor skills, enhanced hearing ability, and memory. This means the skills acquired learning music give the child the foundation to succeed in other disciplines. For instance, the enhanced reasoning skills and verbal intelligence are the skills needed to excel in the language arts. The act of reading music is cognitively very similar to the act of reading words, so children who learn to read music at a young age generally read at a higher grade level than their peers.

Getting the Best Results
A main factor in determining how effective learning music is in a child’s brain development is intensity and frequency. The effects are more pronounced in a child who practices for 3 hours a day versus a child who practices for only an hour a day. It is important to make sure the child doesn’t put all their eggs in one basket so to speak. The cognitive benefits are limited if the child focuses only on music. Some research has also indicated that the benefits are more pronounced in children who play more than one instrument.

Why Does this Matter?
This research is promising for music educators as art and music have been the first victims of budget cuts plaguing school districts across the country. As the evidence supporting the benefits learning music has on cognitive development in children continues to mount, districts will start to re-evaluate the importance of music education. Hopefully this evidence can help keep music in schools and expose more children to the cognitive benefits that will improve their overall performance across all disciplines.

The exciting reality is that the idea of learning music being instrumental in a child’s brain development is just getting off of the ground. Scientists have just uncovered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the cognitive benefits music has across other disciplines. The information for this article was provided by professionals at the University of Florida who offer a master’s of music education online.

Read more on the MusicThinkTank website