New Evidence of the Developmental Benefits of Music Instruction

A recent article by George Hicks on 90.9bur, Boston’s NPR news station entitled How Playing Music Affects The Developing Brain explores the relationship between music and neurological and developmental changes in children. Read the article.

The idea that playing music to babies and young children can have a positive developmental effect is one that has been disputed in recent years. New scientific research since 2000 has taken another look at the developmental impact music can have, focusing on music instruction.

Ani Patel, an associate professor of psychology at Tufts University and the author of Music, Language, and the Brain, says that while listening to music can be relaxing and contemplative, the idea that simply plugging in your iPod is going to make you more intelligent doesn’t quite hold up to scientific scrutiny.

“On the other hand,” Patel says, “there’s now a growing body of work that suggests that actually learning to play a musical instrument does have impacts on other abilities.” These include speech perception, the ability to understand emotions in the voice and the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

The article goes on to explore the positive impacts of learning music on cognitive and neurological changes in addition to emotional development, emotional maturity, and social skills.

The material presented provides more evidence of why music education should be increased in schools and not cut and that instrumental lessons can have deep impact beyond the acquisition of music skills.

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