It’s not just about a recital, an adorable, proud bow to the audience, or roses thrown at his or her feet during an encore. Music education has a proven link to improving certain brain functions and skills. Want to increase your child’s abstract reasoning skills, verbal memory and math abilities all while listening to him or her learn to play “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star?” Daily Mom has news that will be music to your ears!
Music education has been linked to an increase in spatial-temporal awareness, commonly known as abstract reasoning skills. These skills give us the ability to mentally manipulate images - (think puzzles, or games where you must think a step ahead of your opponent). In a study involving 78 preschool children, 34 children received private piano lessons, 20 had private computer lessons, and 24 children were subjects for other areas. Children given piano lessons showed a large improvement on the spatial-temporal test. What can you take from this? Music education has been shown to train a child's brain for abstract thinking, a helpful skill for math and science.
Improving verbal memory
Can being a musician physically “change” a brain? It seems so. A study using MRI’s compared the brains of musicians to non-musicians. Sixty college students with similar backgrounds were given identical visual and verbal tests. Thirty of these students of them had least six years of music training before age 12, and the other half had zero training.
The findings? The musicians had enlarged “left” brains when compared to the non-musicians, and scored higher on the verbal test than the non-musicians by an average of 16%, with no significant difference found between the groups when looking at the results of the visual test. What’s the key to understand here is that a portion of the left side of the brain is attributed with verbal memory, and a portion of the right side of the brain is attributed to visual memory. This study’s findings suggest that music education can train a brain and positively impact verbal memory!
The math and music connection
Is there a math and music connection? You bet, and there are plenty of studies to back them up. One such study involved two groups of second graders; one group of children had piano lessons as well as training in a math program, and another group received English training and piano lessons. After four months of this training, the second-grade students in the math and music group scored 15-41 percent higher than the students in the group that received English and music training on tests that involved ratios and fractions.
Interested in music education for your child?
Sue On, music educator from New Jersey, has some advice for parents:
How can parents encourage music education at home?
"Moms are already encouraging music education everyday without realizing it. Ask any adult or child how they learned the alphabet and they will start singing it for you. Teaching the basics is just listening to music to help develop their ear so that when they do pick up an instrument, they are already familiar with what it's suppose to sound like."
How old should my child be when starting formal music lessons?
"Between the ages of 0-5, most experiences are still first time experiences. With that in mind, everything is fascinating in a child's eyes, and learning something new at every music lesson is no different. At such a young age, a lot of repetition is needed to comprehend the motions required to play an instrument but most of the activities can be disguised as games."
How do I choose an instrument for my child?
"For children 6 and under, violin or piano are great options just to get the ears training. Even if this isn't your child’s first choice, either will most likely be a good transitional instrument due to the fine listening that is required. For an older child, ages 7 and up, there are more options because the lung capacity for air is larger for those interested in singing or wind instruments."
Photo Credit: Erin G.
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