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The Benefits of Music Education

An Overview of Current Neuroscience Research

October 21, 201521 October 2015

Benefits of the arts

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This document provides a useful summary of recent neuroscience research on the impacts of music on mental health and well-being. The report indicates that “neuroscientists are demonstrating that there is a causal connection between music study and cognitive growth”.

The report notes that musically trained people have “stronger neural connections, more grey matter, better information processing, higher IQ, better memory and attention, and better motor coordination”. For children, the report argues that “music education is a powerful tool for attaining children’s full intellectual, social, and creative potential”, by speeding “the development of speech and reading skills”, training “children to focus their attention for sustained periods”, and helping “children gain a sense of empathy”.

Further details are provided about research in these areas:

  • Studies have linked music instruction to improved academic performance, better working memory, as well as improved focus and self-discipline.
  • “In a 2009 Canadian study, young children taking music lessons showed dramatic improvement in their verbal intelligence scores after only four weeks of training.”
  • A study of the brains of musicians found “greater connectivity between brain regions, [which] may help foster increased creativity”.
  • “Collaborative music making can increase empathy in toddlers” and “increase toddlers’ pro-social behaviours, making them more likely to help someone in need”.
  • Music is related to health benefits, including “improved cognitive function as we age”, recovery from strokes, delayed onset of dementia, and the treatment of “a variety of neurological disorders, such as stuttering, autism, and Parkinson’s disease”.

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