How piano lessons can improve language skills

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Beijing Normal University have found that piano lessons help improve children’s language skills.

The study, performed in Beijing, suggests that musical training is as beneficial, if not more beneficial, in improving language skills than extra reading lessons. The researchers hope their findings will encourage other schools to keep or enhance their music provision.

The 74 children involved were divided into three groups: one received 45-minute piano lessons three times a week; one received extra reading instruction three times a week; and one received neither. The children were either 4 or 5 years-old and spoke Mandarin as their native language.

After six months, the researchers tested the children’s ability to discriminate between words based on differences in vowels, consonants, or tone (many Mandarin words differ only in tone). Better word discrimination usually corresponds with better awareness of the sound structure of words, which is a key component of learning to read.

Children who had piano lessons showed a significant advantage over children in the extra reading group in discriminating between words that differ by one consonant. Children in both the piano group and extra reading group performed better than children who received neither intervention.

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

SOURCES:
MIT News: http://news.mit.edu/2018/how-music-lessons-can-improve-language-skills-0625
Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180625192827.htm
ABC News: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/music-education-children-improve-language-skills/story?id=56149242
Technology Networks: https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/news/how-childrens-speech-processing-can-be-improved-by-music-lessons-305375
Tunis Daily News: http://www.tunisiesoir.com/health/study-study-links-piano-education-with-better-word-discrimination-by-kindergartners-details-3816-2018/
Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/scientists-music-lessons-amazing-bonus-995179

DETAILS:

BENEFIT: LITERACY & LANGUAGE SKILLS
TARGET GROUP: CHILDREN
AGE: 4-5 YEARS-OLD
MUSIC TYPE: PIANO
TYPE OF STUDY: ACADEMIC RESEARCH
NOs INVOLVED: 74
PERIOD OF STUDY: 6 MONTHS
DATE: 2018
PLACE: CHINA

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