In 2012, the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California partnered with the Heart of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association to begin a five-year study of how music instruction affects a child's development. Initial results show that music training speeds the development of the auditory system and increases its efficiency.
In the study, scientists are observing brain behavior in 37 children from underprivileged neighborhoods of Los Angeles: 11 in a community soccer program, 13 in no after-school programs, and 13 who began music instruction at the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles program at HOLA at age 6 or 7. The latter group of children learn instruments in ensembles and groups, rehearsing up to seven hours a week.
BCI Senior Research Associate and lead author of the study, Assal Habibi tells USC News, “We are broadly interested in the impact of music training on cognitive, socio-emotional and brain development of children ... These results reflect that children with music training, compared with the two other comparison groups, were more accurate in processing sound.”
When the study began — and again two years later — children were given tasks that involved distinguishing musical tones, as well as tests involving the identification if tonal and rhythmic differences in given melodies. The students in the youth orchestra program had a higher rate of accuracy in detecting a change in pitch than the other two groups.
“The auditory system is stimulated by music,” Habibi added. “This system is also engaged in general sound processing that is fundamental to language development, reading skills and successful communication.”
Read more about the study on the USC News website.