Did you have to take music lessons when you were a kid? I did and I think all the kids I grew up with in our neighborhood did as well. Piano was most popular, along with various band instruments. I struggled with the violin for years before switching over to a clarinet, which I did in order to sit next to my best friend during band practice…
It turns out that music lessons have a lasting impact on your brain, even if you abandon playing when you get older. The Journal of Neuroscience just published a study that found that a brain that plays music early in life is better at processing sound.
Earlier studies seemed to show that playing music throughout your life can offset cognitive declines, including interpreting fast-changing sounds like those that occur in speech. But this latest study – conducted at Northwestern University – looked at limited musical training early in life.
It is still true that the more people played music in their younger years the faster their brains would respond to hearing words, but regardless of the length of music training there was still benefit decades later.
[box type=”success” align=”aligncenter” ]In the study, those that had studied and played music for 4-14 years had the fastest response times.[/box]
This holds important implications for music education, which seems to be falling by the wayside at many schools today due to limited funding.
There is other research around music training that shows that those with music training tend to be better at processing the foreign languages, a related skill to this recent study, but also tend to have better reading skill, math abilities, and higher general intelligence scores. It may even help in forming social skills and self-esteem.
You can find out more about this research on early music study at Neuroscience News and Scientific American: