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  • Marie Coppola, a UConn KIDS researcher, tests children at the Bousfield Psychology Building.

Child Development Blog

Music lessons and language learning

A new study published by Proceedings of the National Academies of Science found an unlikely link between musical training and speech processing. Researchers found that specifically, six months of piano lessons were shown to better a child's speech-sound processing. Children with piano training gained better word discrimination, and in comparison to a reading group, gained better consonant discrimination:

"Even compared to their peers in the extra reading group, children who took piano lessons were significantly better at distinguishing between spoken words that differed by only one consonant, [the researcher] explains. (Both the piano and reading groups performed better than the control group at differentiating between vowels.) This, he says, suggests that piano lessons affect a crucial and complex element of language processing.

Consonants, like 'T' and 'D', can sound so similar that the human brain has to make a snap decision about what it’s hearing. 'Consonants require a bit more precision to tell one from another than do vowels,' [the researcher] says. 'The biggest benefit showed up where there’s the biggest challenge.'

While this small study was completed with Mandarin-Speaking children, the results certainly indicate the positive effects of musical training for young children.

Read more of the Time article here

Read the full scientific article

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