language and reading skills

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

Creative illustration of the brain

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

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.

SOURCES:
Science Direct: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878929315301122
Science World Report: http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/42317/20160615/childrens-brain-develop-faster-exposure-music-instruction.htm
University of Southern California: https://dornsife.usc.edu/bci/brain-and-music/
Southern California Public Radio: http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/06/15/61697/usc-study-continues-to-provide-data-on-music-and-b/
News Medical: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20160616/Music-instruction-improves-cognitive-socio-emotional-development-in-young-children.aspx
Slipped Disc: http://slippedisc.com/2016/06/la-phil-research-learning-music-speeds-up-kids-brains/

DETAILS:

BENEFIT: BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
TARGET GROUP: CHILDREN
AGE: 6-7 YEARS OLD
MUSIC TYPE: CLASSICAL (EL SISTEMA)
TYPE OF STUDY: ACADEMIC RESEARCH
NOs INVOLVED: 37
PERIOD OF STUDY: 2 YEARS (OF A 5 YEAR STUDY)
DATE: 2016
PLACE: USA

Dr Nina Kraus interviewed about the effects of music on the brain

 

Dr. Nina Kraus discusses ongoing work in the Auditory Neuroscience Lab examining the benefits of music making on the brain. See also the following pages on this website:

Music can help close the achievement gap between poor and affluent young people

Active participation in music can rewire young people’s brains

Search under ‘Nina Kraus’ in the search bar at the top of this website for the latest updates from her research.

Active participation in music can rewire young people’s brains

In Harmony students

Photo of In Harmony students – with permission of Dr Nina Kraus

Dr Nina Kraus’s longitudinal study into the effects of music training on disadvantaged young people in Los Angeles , has been looking at the importance of active participation in music.

The research concludes that the level of participation – attendance at classes, practice – affects the changes that result in the brain and the related reading scores.

SOURCE:

Time Magazine: http://time.com/3634995/study-kids-engaged-music-class-for-benefits-northwestern/#

Music could help close achievement gap between poor and affluent students

Dr Nina Kraus1

Photo of In Harmony student and researcher – with permission of Dr Nina Kraus

A study by Northwestern University researchers led by Dr Nina Kraus has looked at the impact of music education on at-risk children’s nervous systems and found that music lessons could help them develop language and reading skills.

The researchers spent two summers with children from poor neighbourhoods in Los Angeles who were receiving music lessons through the Harmony Project, a non-profit organisation providing free music education to low income students.

Music method used

First 6 months – group introductory musicianship classes (1 hour x 2 sessions per week) – identifying pitch and rhythm, performing, notation, basic recorder playing.

Following this – four hours a week of group instruction in strings, woodwind, brass (depending on availability of instruments, provided at no cost to participants).

Two years better than one

Students were divided into two groups. The first received two years of music education by the end of the study, the second received one year of lessons. Researchers discovered that children’s brains responded to the music education after two years of lessons. One year was not enough to have a definitive impact.

“Making music can have a profound and lifelong impact on listening and learning.” Dr Nina Krauss. “It is an effective strategy for helping to close the achievement gap … What seems to be happening is that this experience of making music is helping to create a more efficient brain, a brain that is going to be able to help a person learn and communicate, especially through sound.”

The origins of the study

Prior to the study, leaders at Harmony Project had noticed that students participating in their free music lessons were performing much better than other students in the area. More than 90 per cent of high school seniors who participated going on to college, in an area with high school dropout rates of up to 50 per cent.

SOURCES:

Dr Nina Kraus’s website: http://www.brainvolts.northwestern.edu/ 

Huffington Post: Harmony project music study

Pacific Standard: Music lessons enhance brain function of disadvantaged kids

BBC: Music training can improve language and reading

The original research report:

The Journal of Neuroscience: Music Enrichment Programs Improve the Neural Encoding of Speech in At-Risk Children

DETAILS:

BENEFIT: ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
TARGET GROUP: DISADVANTAGED YOUNG PEOPLE
AGE: 6-9 YEARS
MUSIC TYPE: AFTER SCHOOL CLUBS
TYPE OF STUDY: ACADEMIC RESEARCH
NOs INVOLVED: 44
PERIOD OF STUDY: 2 YEARS
DATE: 2014
PLACE: United States