Music lessons can significantly improve children’s cognitive performance in reading skills, says a new study.
The study led by researchers from Long Island University, USA has shown that children taking music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers.
Lead researchers Joseph M Piro and Camilo Ortiz sought to determine if children who have received keyboard instruction as part of a music curriculum would demonstrate better vocabulary and verbal tasks, than those who did not receive keyboard instruction.
The authors found similarities in the way individuals interpret music and language and "because neural response to music is a widely distributed system within the brain…. it would not be unreasonable to expect that some processing networks for music and language behaviours, namely reading, located in both hemispheres of the brain would overlap."
For the study, the researchers examined second-grade children.
The Children in the intervention school studied piano formally for a period of three consecutive years as part of a comprehensive instructional intervention program.
While children attending the control school (n=57) received no formal musical training on any musical instrument and had never taken music lessons.
The results showed that music-learning group had significantly better vocabulary and verbal sequencing scores than did the non-music-learning control group.
This provides evidence to support the increasingly common practice of "educators incorporating a variety of approaches, including music, in their teaching practice in continuing efforts to improve reading achievement in children".
The study is published in the journal Psychology of Music, published by SAGE.