Music Lessons Help Young Child Memories

Parents who spend time and money to teach their children music,
take heart -- a new Canadian study shows young children who take
music lessons have better memories than their nonmusical peers.

The study, to be published in the online edition of the journal
Brain, showed that after one year of musical training, children
performed better in a memory test than those who did not take
music classes.

"(The research) tells us that if you take music lessons your brain
is getting wired up differently than if you don't take music
lessons," Laurel Trainor, professor of psychology, neuroscience,
and behavior at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, told
"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," said Trainor who led the study.

Over a year they took four measurements in two groups of
children aged between four and six -- those taking music lessons
and those taking no musical training outside school -- and found
developmental changes over periods as short as four months.

The children completed a music test in which they were asked to
discriminate between harmonies, rhythms, and melodies, and a
memory test in which they had to listen to a series of numbers,
remember them, and repeat them back.

Trainor said 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
She said it was not that surprising that children studying music
improved in musical listening skills more than children not
studying music.
"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 nonmusical abilities such as
literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics,
and IQ," she said.

September 20, 2006
Modern Mom
Music & Learning