Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Many Benefits of Music for Kids

The Many Benefits of Music for Kids


Both formal research and simple observation demonstrate that music can benefit your child in many ways:


Development of speech and language

Singing simple songs can help to develop an understanding of the basic structure of language, to become familiar with normal speech patterns and expand vocabulary.


Mathematics

According to Professor Shaw from the University of Los Angeles, learning about rhythm within music helps to develop an understanding of ratios, proportions and fractions.


Social Skills

Dr Lamont, Lecture in the Psychology of Music at the University of Keele, reports that children who participate in music develop higher levels of social cohesion and skills such as empathy.


Confidence and self expression

Music offers children an opportunity to express a range of complex emotions that are often too difficult to convey with verbal communication, and for those children with less confidence to participate without having to rely on words.


At primary school

Researchers at Brown University in the USA have reported findings that suggest that music lessons can help children who are falling behind at school to catch up with and even surpass their peers in reading and maths. The benefits of seven months of music lessons also resulted in significantly improved behaviour ratings within the classroom


Secondary school

Research conducted across a number of Universities in America, found that high school pupils who participate in the performing arts, including music, are less likely to become involved in drugs, crime or have behavioural problems.


The Mozart Effect

In its strict sense the Mozart Effect claims to demonstrate improved performance on spatio-temporal reasoning tasks in the immediate 10-15 minutes after listening to part of a Mozart piano sonata or similar complex music. Spatio-temporal reasoning is the ability to visualise something in space that unfolds over time. For example, estimating how a piece of paper will look unfolded, or reading a map. An improvement in this area of thinking has been linked to skills required in academic subjects like mathematics and science, and so the Mozart effect is claimed to have positive implications for educational performance.

Most studies of this effect have been with adults, and many have limitations. Those that are reported to be sound trials, generally either report no significant effect, or demonstrate that the 'effect' is most likely associated with improved arousal and mood, rather than related to specific cognitive skills.

Only a small number of studies have been conducted specifically with children, and none have demonstrated a significant effect on performance in spatio-temporal skills, as originally claimed


Both formal research and simple observation demonstrate that music can benefit your child in many ways:


Development of speech and language

Singing simple songs can help to develop an understanding of the basic structure of language, to become familiar with normal speech patterns and expand vocabulary.


Mathematics

According to Professor Shaw from the University of Los Angeles, learning about rhythm within music helps to develop an understanding of ratios, proportions and fractions.


Social Skills

Dr Lamont, Lecture in the Psychology of Music at the University of Keele, reports that children who participate in music develop higher levels of social cohesion and skills such as empathy.


Confidence and self expression

Music offers children an opportunity to express a range of complex emotions that are often too difficult to convey with verbal communication, and for those children with less confidence to participate without having to rely on words.


At primary school

Researchers at Brown University in the USA have reported findings that suggest that music lessons can help children who are falling behind at school to catch up with and even surpass their peers in reading and maths. The benefits of seven months of music lessons also resulted in significantly improved behaviour ratings within the classroom


Secondary school

Research conducted across a number of Universities in America, found that high school pupils who participate in the performing arts, including music, are less likely to become involved in drugs, crime or have behavioural problems.


The Mozart Effect

In its strict sense the Mozart Effect claims to demonstrate improved performance on spatio-temporal reasoning tasks in the immediate 10-15 minutes after listening to part of a Mozart piano sonata or similar complex music. Spatio-temporal reasoning is the ability to visualise something in space that unfolds over time. For example, estimating how a piece of paper will look unfolded, or reading a map. An improvement in this area of thinking has been linked to skills required in academic subjects like mathematics and science, and so the Mozart effect is claimed to have positive implications for educational performance.

Most studies of this effect have been with adults, and many have limitations. Those that are reported to be sound trials, generally either report no significant effect, or demonstrate that the 'effect' is most likely associated with improved arousal and mood, rather than related to specific cognitive skills.

Only a small number of studies have been conducted specifically with children, and none have demonstrated a significant effect on performance in spatio-temporal skills, as originally claimed

Twelve Benefits of Music Education

Twelve Benefits of Music Education


1. Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. It is thought that brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain's circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.

2. There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced mathematics problems to being able to pack a book-bag with everything that will be needed for the day.

3. Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions, rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. Questions about the arts do not have only one right answer.

4. Recent studies show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT. They also achieve higher grades in high school.

5. A study of the arts provides children with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards the people of these cultures. This development of compassion and empathy, as opposed to development of greed and a "me first" attitude, provides a bridge across cultural chasms that leads to respect of other races at an early age.

6. Students of music learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed to mediocre, work. These standards, when applied to a student's own work, demand a new level of excellence and require students to stretch their inner resources.

7. In music, a mistake is a mistake; the instrument is in tune or not, the notes are well played or not, the entrance is made or not. It is only by much hard work that a successful performance is possible. Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and the concrete rewards of hard work.

8. Music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal, the performance, and must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals, and practicing.

9. Music provides children with a means of self-expression. Now that there is relative security in the basics of existence, the challenge is to make life meaningful and to reach for a higher stage of development. Everyone needs to be in touch at some time in his life with his core, with what he is and what he feels. Self-esteem is a by-product of this self-expression.

10. Music study develops skills that are necessary in the workplace. It focuses on "doing," as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform, literally, anywhere in the world. Employers are looking for multi-dimensional workers with the sort of flexible and supple intellects that music education helps to create as described above. In the music classroom, students can also learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another.

11. Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks. A little anxiety is a good thing, and something that will occur often in life. Dealing with it early and often makes it less of a problem later. Risk-taking is essential if a child is to fully develop his or her potential.

12. An arts education exposes children to the incomparable.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

First Evidence That Musical Training Affects Brain Development In Young Children

First Evidence That Musical Training Affects Brain Development In Young Children


ScienceDaily (Sep. 20, 2006) — Researchers have found the first evidence that young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year compared to children who do not receive musical training.
See also:
Mind & Brain

* Child Development
* Child Psychology
* Intelligence
* ADD and ADHD
* Neuroscience
* Perception

Reference

* Dyslexia
* Instructional design
* Learning disability
* Mirror test

The findings, published today (20 September 2006) in the online edition of the journal Brain [1], show that not only do the brains of musically-trained children respond to music in a different way to those of the untrained children, but also that the training improves their memory as well. After one year the musically trained children performed better in a memory test that is correlated with general intelligence skills such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics and IQ.

The Canadian-based researchers reached these conclusions after measuring changes in brain responses to sounds in children aged between four and six. Over the period of a year they took four measurements in two groups of children -- those taking Suzuki music lessons and those taking no musical training outside school -- and found developmental changes over periods as short as four months. While previous studies have shown that older children given music lessons had greater improvements in IQ scores than children given drama lessons, this is the first study to identify these effects in brain-based measurements in young children.

Dr Laurel Trainor, Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University and Director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind, said: "This is the first study to show that brain responses in young, musically trained and untrained children change differently over the course of a year. These changes are likely to be related to the cognitive benefit that is seen with musical training." Prof Trainor led the study with Dr Takako Fujioka, a scientist at Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute.

The research team designed their study to investigate (1) how auditory responses in children matured over the period of a year, (2) whether responses to meaningful sounds, such as musical tones, matured differently than responses to noises, and (3) how musical training affected normal brain development in young children.

At the beginning of the study, six of the children (five boys, one girl) had just started to attend a Suzuki music school; the other six children (four boys, two girls) had no music lessons outside school.

The researchers chose children being trained by the Suzuki method for several reasons: it ensured the children were all trained in the same way, were not selected for training according to their initial musical talent and had similar support from their families. In addition, because there was no early training in reading music, the Suzuki method provided the researchers with a good model of how training in auditory, sensory and motor activities induces changes in the cortex of the brain. Brain activity was measured by magnetoencephalography (MEG) while the children listened to two types of sounds: a violin tone and a white noise burst. MEG is a non-invasive brain scanning technology that measures the magnetic fields outside the head that are associated with the electrical fields generated when groups of neurons (nerve cells) fire in synchrony. When a sound is heard, the brain processes the information from the ears in a series of stages. MEG provides millisecond-by-millisecond information that tracks these stages of processing; the stages show up as positive or negative deflections (or peaks), called components, in the MEG waveform. Earlier peaks tend to reflect sensory processing and later peaks, perceptual or cognitive processing.

The researchers recorded the measurements four times during the year, and during the first and fourth session the children also completed a music test (in which they were asked to discriminate between same and different harmonies, rhythms and melodies) and a digit span memory test (in which they had to listen to a series of numbers, remember them and repeat them back to the experimenter).

Analysis of the MEG responses showed that across all children, larger responses were seen to the violin tones than to the white noise, indicating that more cortical resources were put to processing meaningful sounds. In addition, the time that it took for the brain to respond to the sounds (the latency of certain MEG components) decreased over the year. This means that as children matured, the electrical conduction between neurons in their brains worked faster.

Of most interest, the Suzuki children showed a greater change over the year in response to violin tones in an MEG component (N250m) related to attention and sound discrimination than did the children not taking music lessons.

Analysis of the music tasks showed greater improvement over the year in melody, harmony and rhythm processing in the children studying music compared to those not studying music. General memory capacity also improved more in the children studying music than in those not studying music.

Prof Trainor said: "That the children studying music for a year improved in musical listening skills more than children not studying music is perhaps not very surprising. On the other hand, it is very interesting that the children taking music lessons improved more over the year on general memory skills that are correlated with non-musical abilities such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics and IQ than did the children not taking lessons. The finding of very rapid maturation of the N250m component to violin sounds in children taking music lessons fits with their large improvement on the memory test. It suggests that musical training is having an effect on how the brain gets wired for general cognitive functioning related to memory and attention."

Dr Fujioka added: "Previous work has shown assignment to musical training is associated with improvements in IQ in school-aged children. Our work explores how musical training affects the way in which the brain develops. It is clear that music is good for children's cognitive development and that music should be part of the pre-school and primary school curriculum."

Time Invested In Practicing Pays Off For Young Musicians,

Time Invested In Practicing Pays Off For Young Musicians

ScienceDaily (Nov. 5, 2008) — A Harvard-based study has found that children who study a musical instrument for at least three years outperform children with no instrumental training—not only in tests of auditory discrimination and finger dexterity (skills honed by the study of a musical instrument), but also on tests measuring verbal ability and visual pattern completion (skills not normally associated with music).
See also:
Mind & Brain

* Intelligence
* Child Development
* Child Psychology
* Perception
* Educational Psychology
* Psychology

Reference

* Aptitude
* Instructional design
* Dyslexia
* Learning disability

The study, published October 29 in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, was led by Drs. Gottfried Schlaug and Ellen Winne.

A total of 41 eight- to eleven-year-olds who had studied either piano or a string instrument for a minimum of three years were compared to 18 children who had no instrumental training. Children in both groups spent 30-40 minutes per week in general music classes at school, but those in the instrumental group also received private lessons learning an instrument (averaging 45 minutes per week) and spent additional time practicing at home.

While it is no surprise that the young musicians scored significantly higher than those in the control group on two skills closely related to their music training (auditory discrimination and finger dexterity), the more surprising result was that they also scored higher in two skills that appear unrelated to music—verbal ability (as measured by a vocabulary IQ test) and visual pattern completion (as measured by the Raven's Progressive Matrices). And furthermore, the longer and more intensely the child had studied his or her instrument, the better he or she scored on these tests.

Studying an instrument thus seems to bring benefits in areas beyond those that are specifically targeted by music instruction, but that is not the end of the story. Although this research sheds light on the question of whether connections between music and other, unrelated skills do exist, more studies examining the causal relationships between instrumental music training, practice intensity, and cognitive enhancements are needed.

Place of Music in Child`s Development

ScienceDaily (Mar. 16, 2009) — Children exposed to a multi-year programme of music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers, according to a study published in the journal Psychology of Music.
See also:
Mind & Brain

* Educational Psychology
* Intelligence
* Child Development
* Child Psychology
* Perception
* Psychology

Reference

* Peripheral vision
* Instructional design
* Dyslexia
* Psycholinguistics

According to authors Joseph M Piro and Camilo Ortiz from Long Island University, USA, data from this study will help to clarify the role of music study on cognition and shed light on the question of the potential of music to enhance school performance in language and literacy.

Studying children the two US elementary schools, one of which routinely trained children in music and one that did not, Piro and Ortiz aimed to investigate the hypothesis that children who have received keyboard instruction as part of a music curriculum increasing in difficulty over successive years would demonstrate significantly better performance on measures of vocabulary and verbal sequencing than students who did not receive keyboard instruction.

Several studies have reported positive associations between music education and increased abilities in non-musical (eg, linguistic, mathematical, and spatial) domains in children. The authors say there are similarities in the way that individuals interpret music and language and “because neural response to music is a widely distributed system within the brain…. it would not be unreasonable to expect that some processing networks for music and language behaviors, namely reading, located in both hemispheres of the brain would overlap.”

The aim of this study was to look at two specific reading subskills – vocabulary and verbal sequencing – which, according to the authors, are “are cornerstone components in the continuum of literacy development and a window into the subsequent successful acquisition of proficient reading and language skills such as decoding and reading comprehension.”

Using a quasi-experimental design, the investigators selected second-grade children from two school sites located in the same geographic vicinity and with similar demographic characteristics, to ensure the two groups of children were as similar as possible apart from their music experience.

Children in the intervention school (n=46) studied piano formally for a period of three consecutive years as part of a comprehensive instructional intervention program. Children attending the control school (n=57) received no formal musical training on any musical instrument and had never taken music lessons as part of their general school curriculum or in private study. Both schools followed comprehensive balanced literacy programmes that integrate skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening.

All participants were individually tested to assess their reading skills at the start and close of a standard 10-month school year using the Structure of Intellect (SOI) measure.

Results analysed at the end of the year showed that the music-learning group had significantly better vocabulary and verbal sequencing scores than did the non-music-learning control group. This finding, conclude the authors, provides evidence to support the increasingly common practice of “educators incorporating a variety of approaches, including music, in their teaching practice in continuing efforts to improve reading achievement in children”.

However, further interpretation of the results revealed some complexity within the overall outcomes. An interesting observation was that when the study began, the music-learning group had already experienced two years of piano lessons yet their reading scores were nearly identical to the control group at the start of the experiment.

So, ask the authors, “If the children receiving piano instruction already had two years of music involvement, why did they not significantly outscore the musically na├»ve students on both measures at the outset?” Addressing previous findings showing that music instruction has been demonstrated to exert ccortical hanges in certain cognitive areas such as spatial-temporal performance fairly quickly, Piro and Ortiz propose three factors to explain the lack of evidence of early benefit for music in the present study.

First, children were tested for their baseline reading skills at the beginning of the school year, after an extended holiday period. Perhaps the absence of any music instruction during a lengthy summer recess may have reversed any earlier temporary cortical reorganization experienced by students in the music group, a finding reported in other related research. Another explanation could be that the duration of music study required to improve reading and associated skills is fairly long, so the initial two years were not sufficient.

A third explanation involves the specific developmental time period during which children were receiving the tuition. During the course of their third year of music lessons, the music-learning group was in second grade and approaching the age of seven. There is evidence that there are significant spurts of brain growth and gray matter distribution around this developmental period and, coupled with the increased complexity of the study matter in this year, brain changes that promote reading skills may have been more likely to accrue at this time than in the earlier two years.

“All of this adds a compelling layer of meaning to the experimental outcomes, perhaps signalling that decisions on ‘when’ to teach are at least as important as ‘what’ to teach when probing differential neural pathways and investigating their associative cognitive substrates,” note the authors.

“Study of how music may also assist cognitive development will help education practitioners go beyond the sometimes hazy and ill-defined ‘music makes you smarter’ claims and provide careful and credible instructional approaches that use the rich and complex conceptual structure of music and its transfer to other cognitive areas,” they conclude.

Music Training Linked To Enhanced Verbal Skills

Music Training Linked To Enhanced Verbal Skills

ScienceDaily (Sep. 27, 2007) — Music training, with its pervasive effects on the nervous system's ability to process sight and sound, may be more important for enhancing verbal communication skills than learning phonics, according to a new Northwestern University study.
See also:
Mind & Brain

* Perception
* Intelligence
* Neuroscience
* Child Development
* Language Acquisition
* Psychology

Reference

* Auditory system
* Central nervous system
* Sensory neuron
* Thalamus

Musicians use all of their senses to practice and perform a musical piece. They watch other musicians, read lips, and feel, hear and perform music, thus, engaging multi-sensory skills. As it turns out, the brain's alteration from the multi-sensory process of music training enhances the same communication skills needed for speaking and reading, the study concludes.

“Audiovisual processing was much enhanced in musicians' brains compared to non-musician counterparts, and musicians also were more sensitive to subtle changes in both speech and music sounds,” said Nina Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences and Neurobiology and director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, where the work was performed. “Our study indicates that the high-level cognitive processing of music affects automatic processing that occurs early in the processing stream and fundamentally shapes sensory circuitry.”

The nervous system's multi-sensory processing begins in the brainstem, an evolutionarily ancient part of the brain previously thought to be relatively unmalleable.

“Musicians have a specialized neural system for processing sight and sound in the brainstem, the neural gateway to the brain,” said Northwestern doctoral student Gabriella Musacchia, lead author of the study.

For many years, scientists believed that the brainstem simply relayed sensory information from the ear to the cortex, a part of the brain known for cognitive processing.

Because the brainstem offers a common pathway that processes music and speech, the study suggests that musical training conceivably could help children develop literacy skills and combat literacy disorders.

The study, “Musicians Have Enhanced Subcortical Auditory and Audiovisual Processing of Speech and Music,” will be published online the week of Sept. 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The co-investigators are Gabriella Musacchia, Mikko Sams, Erika Skoe and Nina Kraus.

Study participants, who had varying amounts of musical training or none at all, wore scalp electrodes that measured their multi-sensory brain responses to audio and video of a cellist playing and a person speaking.

The data showed that the number of years that a person practiced music strongly correlated with enhanced basic sound encoding mechanisms that also are relevant for speech. Beyond revealing super-accurate pitch coding vital to recognizing a speaker's identity and emotional intent, the study showed enhanced transcription of timbre and timing cues common to speech and music.

“The study underscores the extreme malleability of auditory function by music training and the potential of music to tune our neural response to the world around us, ” Kraus said.

Previous research has shown brainstem transcription errors in some children with literacy disorders.

Since music is inherently more accessible to children than phonics, the new research suggests, music training may have considerable benefits for engendering literacy skills