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Research Questions Educational Benefits of Early Music

The long-held belief that early exposure to music helps a child perform better in learning tasks like math, reading, and concentration is under scrutiny by a pair of new studies.  The New York Times has more:

In one trial, 15 4-year-olds accompanied by their parents attended six weekly 45-minute classes on musical arts and a matched group of 14 attended classes on visual arts.

In a second test, 23 4-year-olds and their parents were assigned to music classes, and 22 to no classes at all. Children living with professional musicians and those already taking music lessons were excluded, and there were no significant differences between the groups in age, family income, ethnicity, parents' level of education and other factors. The results were published in PLOS One.

Researchers tested the children after the classes were completed for skills in spatial, linguistic and numerical reasoning, but found no differences between the groups.

The authors acknowledge that they used only one music curriculum, and that a trial with a different kind or intensity of training might produce different results.

Image: Child playing piano, via Shutterstock