How Taking Music Lessons as a Kid Can Make Your Brain Sharper for Life

Did you know that a couple of music lessons in early life can significantly impact your brain’s development? It may come as a surprise, but music education has been proven to be powerful in stimulating the growth of cognitive abilities in children.

Recent research has shown that even small amounts of music lessons during childhood can have long-lasting effects on your brain’s abilities. As published in the Journal of Neuroscience, this study tested 45 adults and found that those who had received only a year of music lessons in childhood performed better in recognizing various sounds than their counterparts who didn’t have prior musical training. This suggests that the neural advantages gained from childhood music lessons persist throughout life and can provide an intellectual edge, even if the lessons took place decades earlier.

So, what specific areas does music education impact? Let’s dive in and explore how music can work its magic on the brain.

Cognitive skills and music

Researchers believe that music lessons’ benefits extend beyond better sound recognition, positively impacting other areas such as reading and math comprehension. Interestingly, children who study music are often found to experience improved attention span, better working memory, and enhanced executive function. All of these cognitive skills are crucial in everyday life, and it is fascinating to note that such advantages are obtained just by learning to play an instrument or engaging in musical training.

The Mozart effect – a myth or a fact?

Have you ever heard of the ‘Mozart effect’? This term was coined in the early 1990s, following a study that discovered college students performed better in spatial-temporal tasks after listening to Mozart’s music. It was believed that listening to Mozart could boost a person’s IQ by a few points, even if only temporarily.

However, subsequent research debunked this extraordinary claim, revealing that the so-called ‘Mozart effect’ was more due to the students’ enhanced arousal and improved mood after listening to music. The results garnered more from the fact that they enjoyed music rather than any unique effect of Mozart’s compositions specifically.

So, while the Mozart effect might be a bit of a stretch, there’s no doubt that engaging in music lessons still has countless benefits for developing minds.

How music influences language development

According to experts at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, the human brain processes music in similar ways to how it understands language. Music helps children develop the brain’s left side, which is responsible for language processing. Musical training can enhance verbal memory, reading ability, and overall language skills. It can also assist children in identifying speech sounds and understanding spoken words, especially in noisy environments.

A study published in Nature Neuroscience found that children who had two years of musical training exhibited better performance in various language tasks, such as vocabulary and reading tests. The researchers concluded that the ability to distinguish between different sounds – a crucial prerequisite for successful language acquisition – is strengthened through music education.

The role of music in emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is crucial in our relationships, careers, and everyday lives. Fortunately, music education can also enhance our ability to perceive, understand and manage emotions. Music elicits emotions, and children exposed to music often experience a more expansive emotional palette than those who don’t receive regular exposure to different kinds of music.

Moreover, as children learn to play an instrument or sing, they gain self-confidence, develop self-expression, and become more emotionally aware. This is because music directly touches our emotions, allowing children to learn more about themselves and others in the process.

Math, patterns, and music

While it may seem inconsequential, the relationship between music and math is well-established. Music can help children grasp complex mathematical concepts more easily by improving their ability to recognize and understand patterns, scales, and rhythms. A study published in the Journal of Research in Music Education found that children with music education outperformed their counterparts in math tests, particularly in areas related to pattern processing, fractions, and algebra.

Final thoughts

It’s no doubt that music offers numerous cognitive advantages for people, especially in childhood. So, if you have the chance to introduce music lessons into your child’s life, even for a short time, it’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. After all, the benefits of music education on brain development can last a lifetime and provide invaluable skills to assist in life’s challenges.