For thousands of years, music has played an integral role in the socialization of human beings.
For much of that time, we viewed the art form as something magical – a means of connecting with a totally different, immeasurable realm.
And though we’re in the same boat as our ancestors in terms of lacking all the concrete answers, today we have the ability to dive a lot deeper into the subject than ever before.
Enter the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California.Since 2012, they’ve been studying the impact of music on the brains of children.What they’ve found is nothing short of remarkable.
Researchers took a group of 37 children, aged 6-7, from Los Angeles. 13 of them began receiving musical training from Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel.
The remaining children were split into two groups; 11 participated in a community soccer program while 13 didn’t participate in any extracurricular activity at all.
Over the course of two years, researchers used a variety of brain scans to monitor the progress of each child.
Interestingly, the auditory systems of the musical group were maturing much faster than in the other two groups.
This translated to increased speech perception, language development and reading skills.
“The auditory system is stimulated by music,” said Assal Habibi, lead author of the BCI study. “The system is also engaged in general sound processing that is fundamental to language development, reading skills and successful communication.”
So, in other words, Luciano Pavarotti was totally right when he said:
“If children are not introduced to music at an early age, I believe something fundamental is actually being taken from them.”
But Wait, There’s More!
Assuming you’re still with us and not hastily Googling for a music school to enroll your kids in, check out these other awesome benefits of music!
You might just wind up signing yourself up too!
#1 – Bigger Brain
Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have found that in adults who had received music training, the cerebellum – the part of the brain that contains 70% of all neurons – was 5% larger.
Past studies have shown that a larger brain is a very clear indicator of intelligence!
#2 – Improved Academic Performance
Kids who study music routinely perform better on standardized tests like the SAT. Additionally, they tend to get higher grades throughout the all-important high school.
#3 – Increased Progression
Throughout the early stages of learning music, improvements come in leaps and bounds.
One day, a child picks up an instrument and has no idea what it does. A week later, they can point out a few notes. A month later, they can actually string a few of those notes together to create a harmony.
That sort of success instills a love of progression in a child’s mind. Speaking from personal experience, it’s not long before that child longs for that sort of progression in all areas of their life.
And so the journey of discovery begins, sparked by a few simple notes.
#4 – Increased Self-Confidence
The ups and downs of growing up can really weigh heavily on a child.
But research has shown that kids who are musically trained are in a better position for dealing with those challenges. Why? Because music increases self-confidence.
The successful completion of even small music projects (like learning a song) works wonders for boosting morale.
“Children not only become appreciators of each other’s work, but also develop skills of self-reflection in the effort to bring their personal vision to fruition,” said Dory Kanter, arts curriculum writer.
Did you have a musical education growing up? How did it impact you! Share your thoughts in the comments!
Check out this video from TED-Ed to learn more about the power of music!
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Brain and Creativity Institute