Study: music lessons may help children process language

Posted on: September 12, 2014

On Wednesday’s (9/10) NPR’s All Things Considered, Cory Turner writes about a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, in which “researchers found that kids who took music lessons for two years didn’t just get better at playing the trombone or violin; they found that playing music also helped kids’ brains process language.” The study at the Harmony Project in Los Angeles, a music-based afterschool program for children in low-income communities, is “the brainchild of Margaret Martin, whose life path includes parenting two kids while homeless before earning a doctorate in public health.” Neurobiologist Nina Kraus, who runs the study, “randomly assigned several dozen kids from the program’s waitlist into two groups: those who would be studied after one year of music lessons and those who would be studied after two years. And what she found was that in the two-year kids … their brains got better—more precise—at processing sound.… [Tenth-grader Monica] Miranda is in her third year with Harmony Project. ‘When I do my homework or I’m studying for something and I feel overwhelmed, I usually go to my violin, to start playing it,’ Miranda says. ‘I feel like it relaxes my mind. And coming here to play with an orchestra, it’s just amazing. I love it.’ And, the science says, her brain loves it, too.”

Posted September 12, 2014