Creative illustration of the brain

A child’s brain develops faster with exposure to music education

A two-year study by researchers at the Brain and Creativity Institute (BCI) at the University of Southern California shows that exposure to music and music instruction accelerates the brain development of young children in the areas responsible for language development, sound, reading skill and speech perception.

The study of 6-7-year-old children began in 2012, when neuroscientists started monitoring a group of 37 children from an underprivileged neighbourhood of Los Angeles. Thirteen of them received music instruction through the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles Program where they practiced up to seven hours each week.

Eleven children were enrolled in a community-based soccer programme, and another 13 children were not involved in any training programme at all.

The researchers compared the three groups by tracking the electrical activity in the brains, conducting behavioural testing and monitored changes using brain scans.

The results showed that the auditory systems of the children in the music programme had accelerated faster than the other children not engaged in music. Dr. Assal Habibi, the lead author of the study and a senior research associate at the BCI, explained that the auditory system is stimulated by music and the system is also engaged in general sound processing. This is essential to reading skills, language development and successful communication.

Science Direct:
Science World Report:
University of Southern California:
Southern California Public Radio:
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DATE: 2016


    1. Thanks for your interest. Yes of course, the information is in the public domain and I’m happy for you to use our copy about it – would be great if you’d include a link to our site.


    2. I believe this study should begin at Age 2 or 3- alongside Early Years Skills Development…. Music is 3D math in motion… it’s boost in Brain Power is incalculable. Perhaps Public School should begin at these ages too!


      1. I’m afraid I don’t know Tei: we only really collect research that’s about the impact/effect of music, if we collected other research this would be a huge site! Good luck with finding out more.


    1. I have a 92 year old trumpet student- he and another retired fellow and I just played a 1 hour trumpet gig today- it certainly does keep the brain sharp!


  1. This is great info! Could you follow up a bit on what happened with the kids in soccer and those that didn’t have any sports or music? What were the results for them? I’d be curious to know. Thanks!


  2. Your wonderful study also supports research regarding the vital importance of the Fine Arts and Whole Brain Learning. In my 35 years as a visual arts teacher, some progress has been made however, the uphill battle continues. Sadly many of our public schools have cut or totally eliminated Music, Art, Theater and Dance from their budgets and curriculum. We wonder why kids can’t read, spell and write a complete sentence. Emotional Intelligence cannot be fostered by logic, memorization and facts which serve to keep us disconnected from our personal, creative powers and the positive energy of our 5 senses.


  3. My children are learning to sing in a small group. Everytime i pick them up they are always so joyful and happy. They bpth siffer anxiety and musoc has been a blessing .


  4. Desde hace 12 años vengo investgando sobre la musca y su efecto en el cerebro, me gustaria compartir mis experiencias con uds, aunque tengo ciertas aclaraciones sobre todo con los efectos de la musica mal llamada clasica.almagua2002 @

    Translation: For 12 years I have been researching on music and its effect on the brain, I would like to share my experiences with you, although I have some clarifications especially with the effects of the badly called musica clasica.


  5. The results certainly sound promising/positive. However, I wonder whether the “control” group would show some improvement if only for the positive interaction with a teacher or mentor of any specialty?


    1. Thanks for commenting – fair point and there’s always that question over any research of this kind – of course the music instruction was being part of an orchestra, so group-based and not based on one-to-one mentoring.


  6. Music has played a huge part in the development of my (autistic) son’s speech and reading skills, so it is good to see that scientific study into this matter is taking place, and that the results were positive in favour of music.


  7. Do you have any information on how it may aid children who have been diagnosed with ADHD? If so, what process was/is used?
    Thank you


  8. I home educate 4 children, 3 girls 4,11,14 and my son 6, he struggles to sit and learn. Gets bored very easily. I’m going to try the sing, spell, read and write that a lady mentioned above, I’m also looking into some instruments and learn myself how to play them while I try and teach the kids, My one daughter has a guitar and self taught some cords. I have noticed they enjoy colouring to music. We spent 3 hours sat at table with all sorts of songs on and they sang and coloured. A rare thing for my son to sit that long and engage. He hasn’t got ADHD etc etc he’s just a non stop kid! Would rather burn off his energy, which after reading some material is normal for boys apparently. But yes will be definitely be incorporating more music and instruments. Just thought of another thing, my 14 year old is very artistic, she usually has her music on while she paints and draws in her room. So yes music all the way!


    1. Thanks Clare – I’m not sure where you’re based but if you’re in the UK it’s worth contacting your local music education hub or community music organisation who sometimes have activities specifically for home-educated young people – good luck with your family’s music!


  9. What happened with the group who took soccer in comparison to music or nothing? Was there any development with the soccer group?


  10. This may serve as motivation for parents to have their children involved in music. Same thing we’re doing here in Perth, Western Australia we support and evangelize music education.


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