Benefits of Music Making
What are the benefits of music education?
Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory.
Strait, D.L. and N. Kraus, Biological impact of auditory expertise across the life span: musicians as a model of auditory learning. Hearing Research, 2013.
Researchers found that after two years, children who not only regularly attended music classes, but also actively participated in the class, showed larger improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers.
Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, quoted in Melissa Locker, “This Is How Music Can Change Your Brain,” Time, December 16, 2014.
Music training leads to greater gains in auditory and motor function when begun in young childhood; by adolescence, the plasticity that characterizes childhood has begun to decline. Nevertheless, our results establish that music training impacts the auditory system even when it is begun in adolescence, suggesting that a modest amount of training begun later in life can affect neural function.
Adam T. Tierney, Jennifer Krizman, Nina Kraus, “Music training alters the course of adolescent auditory development,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015.
Research shows that making music changes the brain, and that these brain changes have tangible impacts on listening skills, learning and cognition.
(2017). Music, hearing, and education: from the lab to the classroom; quoted in Northwestern University,September/October, 2017.
Individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers.
(2017). Music, hearing, and education: from the lab to the classroom; quoted in Northwestern University, September/October, 2017.
Adolescent-centered studies show that even very basic rhythm abilities, such as tapping to a beat, relate with reading skills, and we have provided initial evidence for how both abilities may rely on common underlying neural mechanisms of sound processing.
Tierney, A.T. and N. Kraus, The ability to tap to a beat relates to cognitive, linguistic, and perceptual skills. Brain and Language, 2013. 124(3): p. 225-231.
Students who take music in middle school score significantly higher on algebra assignments in 9th grade than their non-music counterparts.
Helmrich. B. H. (2010). Window of opportunity? Adolescence, music, and algebra. Journal of Adolescent Research. 25 (4).
Musical training is thought to improve nervous system function by focusing attention on meaningful acoustic cues, and these improvements in auditory processing cascade to language and cognitive skills.
Nina Kraus, Jessica Slater, Elaine C. Thompson, Jane Hornickel, Dana L. Strait, Trent Nicol, Travis White-Schwoch, “Music Enrichment Programs Improve the Neural Encoding of Speech in At-Risk Children,” Journal of Neuroscience, September 3, 2014.