San Diego researchers and Youth Symphony study music’s impact on brain development

Posted on: May 16, 2012

Monday (5/14) on the news site Voice of San Diego, Kelly Bennett writes, “The screeches of novice violinists are catching the attention of a group of San Diego brain and development scientists. A new study launched this spring [at the University of California San Diego Neurosciences Institute] aims to explore what physically changes in the brains of 15 kids learning music for the first time, and whether that helps the students learn better in other areas, over five years. … Finding out what experiences do what in the brain could upend some long-held education traditions. A kid struggling in math could be enrolled in music to strengthen the weak spots in her brain, rather than sit through times tables sessions after school. … About 25 miles south of the researchers’ La Jolla campuses, the scientists found an ideal pool of kids to study: A growing after-school music program in Chula Vista. The San Diego Youth Symphony’s Community Opus Project takes after a beloved Venezuelan social-change and music program that funnels young students through intensive classical music training in hopes of helping them escape poverty. … Principals in schools that host the after-school classes report to the Youth Symphony’s chief, Dalouge Smith, that they’re seeing less of the usual troublemakers. But even evidence of kids faring better on tests can be tricky to extrapolate. Smith wants to see if kids’ brains are physically changing for the better due to their music classes.”

Posted May 16, 2012