Music And Your Child's Brain

Research has indicated that studying music causes the brain to develop differently than in non-musicians.  In general, musicians have a larger than average corpus callosum (this part of the brain was also greatly developed in Albert Einstein and is believed to have been a contributing factor to his intelligence).  It is the part of the brain that connects the left and right hemisphere and allows for the processing of information, planning, constructive thinking and higher cognitive function

Higher brain functioning also leads to other positive changes : musicians consistently scored higher on tests equating to moral reasoning, and also experienced many more peak experiences than non musicians.  Similar results were observed in top level athletes, business managers & regular meditators.

Musical training has also been found to enhance visual spatial reasoning, mathematical performance, literacy, verbal memory and overall IQ.  In one study comparing children who had just started music lessons and a control group receiving a standard education, the music group scored higher overall academically, and the results improved steadily with time.

Music lessons are a great way to assist your child in achieving a successful future.  Not only will they provide the benefits listed above, but also the opportunity of a prospective career, and the opportunity to travel and meet new people.  Music will allow for the multi-faceted development of your child through a thoroughly enjoyable medium. And as many parents have been delighted to tell us, it keeps children away from their computers, televisions, and off the streets for some time, and this in turn contributes to a richer, more fulfilling life!

Research finds advantage for early starters: an excerpt from the Strad magazine

Scientists in Germany have found evidence to show that children who begin learning musical instruments before the age of seven have an advantage over later starters.They scanned the brains of 36 professional and advanced student musicians, half of whom had started before the age of seven, and half of whom started afterwards (all the musicians had similar training and practising backgrounds).

Their results showed that early starters had more white matter connections in the corpus callosum-the part of the brain linking the two cerebral hemispheres and which synchronises tasks involving both hands.  Christopher Steele, from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, said, "It appears that the corpus callosum is undergoing maturational changes between the ages of six and eight, so if you begin musical training at the same time your brain is more receptive".  Steel stressed, however, that it shouldn't deter people from learning later on.  "The brain adapts to training and experience throughout life.  It's never too late".

Krystyna Budzynska , associate director of the junior academy and director of the primary academy at London's Royal Academy of Music agreed.  "I don't think age is a bar", she said.  "Although many string methods do start children off at a young age, there are so many variables.  Someone might only have the opportunities to start playing at 16, but they might be so determined and have been born with such brilliance that they succeed".

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TedEd Talk: How playing an instrument benefits your brain by Anita Collins

References for top article :

Moral development, executive functioning, peak experiences and brain patterns in professional and amateur classical musicians: Interpreted in light of a Unified Theory of Performance, Frederick Travids, Harald S. Harung, Yvonne Lagrosen, Consciousness and Cognition, 2011 in press.

Research examining whether listening to music improves adults' spatial reasoning
Hetland, L. (2000). Listening to music enhances spatial-temporal reasoning: Evidence for the "Mozart Effect." Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34 (3-4), 105-148.

Research examining whether learning to play music improves spatial reasoning
Hetland, L. (2000). Learning to make music enhances spatial reasoning. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34 (3-4), 179-238.

Costa-Giomi, E. (1999). The effects of three years of piano instruction on children's cognitive development. Journal of Research in Music Education, 47 (5), 198-212.

Rauscher, R., Shaw, G., Sevine, L., Wright, E., Dennis, W., & Newcomb, R. (1997). Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's spatial-temporal reasoning. Neurological Research, 19, (1) 2-7.

 Research examining whether studying the arts improves school performance
Winner, E., & Hetland, L. (2000). The arts and academic achievement: What the evidence shows. Double Issue of Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34 (3-4), Fall/Winter, 2000.