Even if it’s something you very rarely think about, music is a significant part of all our lives. If you try to imagine a world with no music, it’s almost impossible. Think about how bland your shopping trip or special dinner out would be if there was no background music. Dancing wouldn’t be nearly as fun and driving in silence with no music to pass the time might just drive us crazy altogether.
Over the years there have been several studies that say learning to play an instrument can increase your cognitive thinking skills but so far trying to prove this has been disappointing. However, there’s new research that shows significant data, and it might lead more parents into getting their children excited and involved in the musical arts.
Neuroscientists at the University of Southern California Brain and Creativity Institute recently published their five-year study, and the results are impressive. Music lessons have a considerable impact on young children, and they found that their brains developed faster than it did for children without the music instruction. There was a vast improvement in the areas of the brain that processes sound, speech perception, language development, and reading skills.
Even more impressive, the research says that within two years of music instruction, the auditory systems of children in the music program were maturing faster than in the other children. There was a definite advancement in the areas of the brain that is responsible for focus and decision-making. It also gave the children more control over their impulses.
Antonio Damasio, University Professor, and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute said “There has been a long suspicion that music practice has a beneficial effect on human behavior. But this study proves convincingly that the effect is real.”
The USC neuroscientists found improvements in both the Grey Matter which processes information and in the white matter which carries signals through the brain. The children who were in the group that received the music lessons had more volume and thickness in some regions of the brain, compared to the children in the study that did not receive the lessons.
Assal Habibi, an assistant research professor of psychology who was the lead author, said “We have documented longitudinal changes in the brains of the children receiving music instruction that are distinct from the typical brain changes that children that age would develop. Our findings suggest that musical training is a powerful intervention that could help children mature emotionally and intellectually.”
Habibi goes on to say, “Together these results demonstrate that community music programs can offset some of the negative consequences that low socioeconomic status can have on child development.”
Unfortunately, for a lot of our country’s children, (especially those in underprivileged neighborhoods) many of the public school’s music and arts programs have been drastically slashed or may be entirely non-existent. Hopefully, this research will prove to policymakers just how crucial public school music programs are for the development of our children.
Having a well-rounded education which includes music instruction, is not only beneficial for our children, but it will benefit society as a whole when these bright individuals are running the country one day in the future.
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About the Author: Bethany Vincent is a writer from La Grange Kentucky who has loved playing with words since she first learned to speak. She lives with her teenage son and adopted dog daughter in a cute, yellow house with a picket fence. During college at the University of Louisville, she could be found at the writing center most of the time and her main areas of focus were literature, creative writing, and visual arts. Bethany has contributed articles and created content for many websites and blogs during her writing career. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, juggle-dancing, yoga, photography, cooking and singing along with her favorite songs while in the car driving. In the future, she plans to finish writing her first book and hopes to travel to all the beautiful places that she’s read about.