Harmony Project 603X380
Harmony Project 603X380

Why is music good for your children?

A recent study published by scientists in North-western University (Chicago) concluded that learning music can improve children's language acquisition and comprehension.

It now a widely known scientific fact that music has an effect on the brain. But the recently published study conducted by a team of researchers at the School of Communication at North-western University in Chicago now provides concrete evidence on the neurobiological evolution in the brain of children who have been learning music for at least two years. This study is the first to analyse in situ the evolution of sound perception in children’s brains over the course of two years’ musical training.

Nina Kraus, professor in communication studies who conducted this research says "Our observations show that learning music can literally reshape a child's brain and improve the reception of sound, which automatically improves learning and language acquisition skills."

 With her team, Nina Kraus was the first to follow the impact of musical learning on children’s cognitive skills. Her subjects, ranging from age 3 to 6 were all part of The Harmony Project, a free program dispensing music lessons to kids in underprivileged neighbourhoods in Los Angeles.  

Just like El Sistem, his Venezuelan counterpart, the Harmony Project has been providing music workshops after school to children from disadvantaged families for over ten years. As project founder Margaret Martin points out, Harmony Project participants often come from families ridden with violence, crime and drugs. The Harmony Project gives them the opportunity to learn an instrument, but also to be part of a collective project, where they can express themselves and think outside the box. While observing her students, Margaret Martin came to a surprising conclusion: "Since 2008, 93% of young people who were part of the Harmony Project have proven successful at school and enrolled in universities, despite a whopping 50% academic failure ratio in this area. "

Nina Kraus believes that learning music is one of the main reasons for this radical change. As the researcher explains, music and language are based on the same parameters (pitch, tone and duration) and our brain processes them in a similar way. And therefore, exposing a child's brain to regular music lessons fosters stimulation to process these three factors, while increasing the brains capacity to analyze them faster and with greater precision. Nina Kraus explains "We used fast but powerful neurological tests that allowed us to evaluate the neurological stimuli processing with greater accuracy. We found that the brain does change after two years of musical learning. This proves that music education cannot be done at a fast pace, but when it’s integrated to general education, it can have a lasting and beneficial impact on listening and learning skills. "

A word to the wise! Goodbye!
The study’s co-authors: Jessica Slater, Elaine C. Thompson, Dana L. Strait, Jane Hornickel, Nicol Trent and Travis White-Schwoch of Northwestern. Read more 

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