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A Neuroscientist's Argument for Saving School Music Programs

Back in 2007, Northwestern neuroscientist Nina Kraus led a team of researchers that showed that training in music as a youngster helps...


Back in 2007, Northwestern neuroscientist Nina Kraus led a team of researchers that showed that training in music as a youngster helps boost speech and reading abilities-since the same pathways used for mastering music are used for language.

This past weekend, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Diego, she presented her own work, along with that of others, linking music training to better brain function. Her main point: Schools should make sure that they keep offering music programs.
Playing an instrument may help youngsters better process speech in noisy classrooms and more accurately interpret the nuances of language that are conveyed by subtle changes in the human voice. ... Cash-strapped school districts are making a mistake when they cut music from the K-12 curriculum. ... People's hearing systems are fine-tuned by the experiences they've had with sound throughout their lives. ... Music training is not only beneficial for processing music stimuli. We've found that years of music training may also improve how sounds are processed for language and emotion.

Among the real-world advantages of a music-filled childhood is the ability to focus in on certain sounds, which is helpful when talking to people in a crowded room. It may also help a person read better in noisy rooms-which, to me at least, is a borderline superpower.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user Rob Lee

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