Benefits of music extends far beyond the technical ability to play an instrument
Following the recent outstanding presentation of the Junior School Musical, The Lion King Jnr, ably performed by our Years 5 and 6 students and the success of the Years 7 and 8 Music Concert at Toorak Uniting Church this week, parents will be pleased to read the following research presented by the Alliance of Girls’ School Australasia. A new study looking at the effects that learning music has on auditory and visual skills has found that children who are exposed to at least 18 months of music lessons have an advantage in the classroom due to their faster recognition of hidden patterns and statistical regularities.
Lead researcher, Dr Pragati Mandikal-Vasuki, an auditory cognitive neuroscientist at Macquarie University, recently reported that the ability to detect statistical patterns “is a key building block of learning a language, learning to read and also learning a second language”. In fact, she says, “It’s a fundamental ability.”
In this research, students who had completed at least 18 months of private music lessons showed that they had better melody, rhythm and frequency discrimination than children without musical training. Learning statistical patterns for children is considered important because one of the ways children learn is by detecting regularities within an environment. For example, when not familiar with all the words in a sentence, we use statistical regularities to assess the many different letter combinations. Children learn these by reading thousands of English words and sentences.
Dr Mandikal-Vasuki explained “musicians were found to be better than non-musicians on the auditory statistical learning tasks. Other factors such as cognitive or auditory skills, including memory and detection of pitch, did not influence the outcome of these tasks significantly. Thus statistical learning is an independent cognitive ability.”
This study continues to add weight to the evidence that the benefits of music extend far beyond the technical ability to play an instrument into language acquisition and cognitive abilities. As Dr Mandikal-Vasuki notes, “Perception of sound is a process that starts at the ear but ends in the brain.”