Music classes help enhance skills that are critical for academic success, suggests a new research. The study authors said, "High school music training can improve the teenage brain's responses to sound and sharpen hearing and language skills." These findings highlight music's place in the high school curriculum.
Nina Kraus, senior study author and director of Illinois-based Northwestern University's school of communication, said, "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. The gains were seen during group music classes included in the schools' curriculum, suggesting in-school training accelerates neuro-development."
For the study, the research team recruited 40 Chicago-area high school students. Almost half the students had enrolled in band classes, which involved two to three hours a week of instrumental group music instruction in school. The remaining students had enrolled in fitness exercises during a comparable period. Electrode recordings revealed that students in the music group showed more rapid maturation in the brain's response to sound. Moreover, they also demonstrated prolonged heightened brain sensitivity to sound details. According to the researchers, high school music training, increasingly disfavored due to funding shortfalls, might hone brain development and improve language skills.
Kraus said, "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. Our results support the notion that the adolescent brain remains receptive to training, underscoring the importance of enrichment during the teenage years."
The study will be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).