Expert Commentary

Music training for the development of auditory skills

2010 study by Northwestern University on the potential larger effects of early music training on the brain's development, including linguistic abilities.

As U.S. schools struggle with funding cuts and the requirements of the test-centered No Child Left Behind Act, music and other arts programs are often put on the chopping block. Because these courses are frequently seen as “impractical,” they’re often the first to be trimmed or eliminated altogether.

However, 2010 a Northwestern University study published in Nature Reviews: Neuroscience, “Music Training for the Development of Auditory Skills,” indicates that early music training can have important effects on the brain’s development. Because music training improves auditory abilities, it can have positive effects on a number of other abilities, including those that could improve performance in other subject areas.

Some of the study’s findings include:

  • Compared with nonmusicians, children with music training were found to have superior linguistic abilities. They possessed a better vocabulary and reading ability and had a greater ability to learn new languages.
  • Children with music training were found to have superior working memory performance.
  • Children who began music training before age seven possessed superior sensory-motor integration compared with those who had not received musical training.

The authors note that other studies have shown that music training can help children with auditory processing and literacy issues. Given the music training’s benefits, they suggest that policies should be targeted to enhance the quality and extent of music training in schools.

Tags: arts, children, parenting