This meta-analysis looked at the impact of music intervention on reading-related skills in children and suggests ‘modest gains’* for children receiving music training, compared with control groups.
They found 13 studies, which presented a mixed set of results, marked by a large range of potential literacy-related outcomes. The findings were somewhat inconclusive in relation to the hypothesized impact of music education on reading-related skills. The mixed results obtained in the meta-analysis could instead signify the possible limitations of the kind of music training given.
They concluded that evidence from longitudinal studies is needed, and that these need to study a controlled and specific amount of musical training in order to properly investigate the causal influence of music on non-musical skills.
The analysis was carried out by Dr Reyna Gordon from the Music Cognition Lab in the Department of Otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee; Hilda Fehd from the Institute for Software Integrated Systems in the School of Engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville; and Bruce McCandliss from the Department of Psychology at Stanford University, California.
*Results of the meta-analysis on the broad category of Phonological Awareness outcomes suggest modest gains (a small effect size of d = 0.20) for the music vs. control groups.
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Frontiers in Psychology: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01777/full