Do music lessons can make you a better reader?

According to scientists from Northwestern University the answer could be YES!!

Image Credit: Stillfehler [CC-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The study was conducted by Nina Kraus and her staff with the help of Harmony Project, an NGO that provided the instruments to the participants, was developed with more than one hundred 10 year old  children from the poorest areas from Chicago and Los Angeles.  They compared the reading skills from children who were attending  music lessons, with another group of children  that wasn’t taking any kind of these activities.

They realized that children who received music lessons for more than 5 hours per week improved their reading skills and they also were more affluent.

They also have done with young teenagers who were having music lessons and also playing in bands or in choirs in their communities

 During this research they recorded the participants’ brainwaves to measure their response to speech sounds. They noticed that after couple of years of training the guys could distinguish any different sound from each other in a faster way than the teenagers who didn’t have these activities.

Scientists concluded that playing any kind of instrument or singing was beneficial to children’s brains and also improve their academic skills.  Another important thing in this research is that all of the children had the same IQ and reading skills at the beginning of the research.

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At the end of the research Kraus told that music alters the nervous system in a positive way for those who frequently are having any kind of these lessons .

How about the Grown-ups?

Well, Dr. Kraus is really passionate about this topic, she also performed a research with adults between ages 55 to 75 and she also found that those who played instruments at a certain point of their lives had less problems with communication and hearing and the longer they played the instrument the better brain response to these features.

That doesn’t mean that music is just for children and grandpas,  you can play any kind of instrument at any stage of your life , as Jennifer Bugos from the Univerity of South Florida , says.

She also compared a group of people who have been taking piano lessons during six months and she discovered that the participants improved in their memory, fluency and in how they process the information from their brains.  Another research performed by scientists of the University of Geneva confirmed that having some music lessons improve the brain development in young adults.

Therefore, there is no excuse to have a little bit of fun with the guitar, ukelele or whatever instrument you like.

In fact, this post will be a message for myself, I always wanted to play the guitar but I couldn’t or I just didn’t want to  find the time to play it.  I will add it in my checklist…

For further information:

How Playing an Instrument Benefits to Brain?

Bugos, JA 2014, ‘Adult Learner Perceptions: Perspectives from Beginning Musicians (Ages 60-86 Years)’, Update: Applications Of Research In Music Education, 32, 2, pp. 26-34

James, Clara E, et al. “Musical Training Intensity Yields Opposite Effects On Grey Matter Density In Cognitive Versus Sensorimotor Networks.” Brain Structure & Function 219.1 (2014): 353-366.

Kraus, Nina, et al. “Music Enrichment Programs Improve the Neural Encoding of Speech in At-Risk Children.” Journal Of Neuroscience 34, no. 36 (September 3, 2014): 11913-11918

White-Schwoch, T, Carr, K, Anderson, S, Strait, D, & Kraus, N 2013, ‘Older adults benefit from music training early in life: Biological evidence for long-term training-driven plasticity’, The Journal Of Neuroscience, 33, 45, pp. 17667-17674

2 Responses to “Do music lessons can make you a better reader?”

  1. Maria Fernanda Carrillo says:

    Hi Odi, thanks for your kind comment :), scientists have been done research with different types of instruments, therefore there is no consensus which one would be the best instrument to play, BUT they agree that playing any kind of instrument or even singing lessons will improve your skills. Personally, I think you should play any instrument of your preference because it would awful playing an instrument that you don’t like, hope this info will be useful:

  2. Odi Selan says:

    Good post! Happy to read this story. I can play guitar so that’s good;). Is there any particular instrument that has better impacts on our academic skills?