"Music Lessons Improve Syllable Discrimination"
Elementary students who participated in a music-enrichment program for two years showed improvement in their ability to process speech sounds, according to a study this month in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Forty-four students, ages 6 to 9, taking music training through the Harmony Project, a nonprofit music education program for low-income students in Los Angeles, took part in the study. At the beginning of the after-school program, students received two hours a week of instruction on pitch, rhythm, notation, and other fundamental music skills. After a few months, students began receiving at least four hours of weekly instruction and learned to play music.
The researchers, led by Nina Kraus, a principal investigator at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, used a neural probe to test the speed of students' auditory processing when hearing two consonant-vowel pairs: "ba" and "ga." After two years, students "showed a marked improvement in the neural differentiation of the syllables," according to the study. The researchers also found that students with more hours of instrumental training showed larger improvements. Studies have linked faster auditory processing to better spelling and reading skills.
Vol. 34, Issue 03, Page 5Published in Print: September 10, 2014, as Music Training