A recent study shows that music learning improves hearing and language skills in teenagers, suggesting that music training can help students do better in school.
In a news release, Nina Kraus — director of Northwestern University's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory and senior study author — states, “While music programs are often the first to be cut when the school budget is tight, these results highlight music’s place in the high school curriculum." She adds, "Although learning to play music does not teach skills that seem directly relevant to most careers, the results suggest that music may engender what educators refer to as ‘learning to learn.’”
40 Chicago-area high school students were recruited as part of the investigation, and were studied from shortly before the beginning of their freshman year to the end of their senior year. Nearly half of the students enrolled in band classes, involving two to three hours a week of group music instruction. The remaining students enrolled in an ROTC program, which focused on fitness exercises during a comparable duration.
Data gathered from the beginning of the study and compared to the figures gathered at the end showed that more rapid growth in the brain's response to sound with the music students. In addition, those students demonstrated heightened brain sensitivity to sound details.
The findings were published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and can be viewed here.