Performance of a musical task improved among pianists who learned a new melody and practiced it after a night of sleep, says researcher Sarah E. Allen from the Southern Methodist University, Dallas, US.
The study, which examined how the brain learns and retains motor skills, is among the first to look at whether sleep enhances the learning process for musicians practicing a new piano melody, reports Science Daily.
However, it was also found that the gains in speed and accuracy declined after sleep among musicians who practiced the day before on two melodies one after another, said Allen, assistant professor of music education in SMU's Meadows School of the Arts.
Surprisingly, in a third result the study found that when two similar musical pieces were practiced one after the other, followed by practice of the first melody again, a night's sleep enhanced pianists' skills on the first melody, she said.
"The really unexpected result that I found was that for those subjects who learned the two melodies, if before they left practice they played the first melody again, it seemed to reactivate that memory so that they did improve overnight. Replaying it seemed to counteract the interference of learning a second melody," the researcher said.