Music for the Mind

No matter who you are or where in the world you stay, music is one art form that everyone enjoys. It is a medium of expression that is understood by all, whether it is uplifting the spirit, religious worship through music, mending a broken heart or bringing back memories of happy times, music touches the heart of one and all. Recent studies, however, have proved that music also touches the mind and can aid children tremendously during their early development. There are now educational reasons for motivating children to study a musical instrument.

Published in the Nature Reviews Neuroscience, the study of music and its positive effects on children has highlighted several significant points that should be explored by parents. Firstly, it was found that brain cells are stimulated during the playing of an instrument, or the study thereof, assisting in improvement of auditory skills in the brain. It was found that each individual child who was studied developed in numerous different ways, and music helped children struggling with speech and even reading. Some children were able to start understanding foreign languages. Musicians, such as pianists for instance, show more activity in their auditory cortex, as this part of the brain is stimulated through a musician’s need to assess timing and pitch during their performances. It is this function that assists with speech, as speech also incorporates these two functions, as well as memory. Being able to pay attention to one activity is also enhanced, as musicians concentrate on completing a musical piece.

Lead author of the research team, Nina Kraus, commented on the studies, saying: “A musician’s brain selectively enhances information-bearing elements in sound. In a beautiful interrelationship between sensory and cognitive processes, the nervous system makes associations between complex sounds and what they mean.” Music is all about communication. Because of the sensory and cognitive functions of the brain being exercised, music also assists children with learning disabilities, dyslexia and speech difficulties. Kraus went on to say: “Music training seems to strengthen the same neural processes that often are deficient in individuals with developmental dyslexia or who have difficulty hearing speech in noise.”