According to recent findings published in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, learning to play an instrument improves learning, speech, reading, and understanding a foreign language.
Researchers say that music tones the brain for “auditory fitness.” Because a musician must be tuned to musical sounds, timing and quality, such training changes the brain’s auditory system. For example, pianists show more brain activity in the auditory cortex, the part of the brain responsible for processing sounds, than non-musicians.
Musicians also have larger brain size in motor and auditory areas. This allows for the better understanding of speech, as speech, like music, involves pitch, timing, memory, and attention.
This study supports the movement to push music programs in schools. Children with music training have more neural activity, as well as enhanced abilities to judge emotion in speech and differentiate a statement from a question. Also, children who are involved in music have better vocabularies, reading abilities, and are far better at learning a foreign language.
Musicians also have an improved ability to understand speech in a noisy environment, which may have arisen from learning to distinguish sounds within melodies. This opens the idea for musical training used to help children with disorders such as dyslexia. Dyslexic children are particularly at risk to the harmful effects of background noise. Musical training will strengthen the brain processes that are deficient in dyslexic children.