Language Advantage
October 1, 2018

How music lessons can improve language skills

How piano training has been shown to improve word recognition.

According to a recent study curated by a group of MIT researchers, there is a positive connection between musical skills and linguistic abilities. Throughout the span of the text, subject kindergarten kids who took piano lessons have reportedly shown a much better understanding of different pitches, and thus, a better ability to differentiate between spoken words and musical sounds in a process known as “word discrimination”.

Word discrimination, the ability to distinguish actual words from other sounds and noises in the surrounding environment, is a vital component of an individual’s linguistic development, and it appears that a stronger focus on musical training and pitch recognition can bring huge developmental benefits in this area.

The fact that musical training can have a positive effect on linguistic skills is not exactly news. In fact, the links between these two disciplines have been documented in various ways throughout the years, and extensively explored by scientists, scholars, and researchers. Having said that, this recent aforementioned MIT study represents a first observation of how taking musical lessons can indeed improve language processing and provide measurable benefits.

Specifically, piano lessons have helped kindergarten students improve the way they recognize pitches and patterns, allowing them to learn how recognize actual words quickly.

Although piano lessons did not offer significant improvements in a broad cognitive spectrum, children who undertook the lessons became significantly better at word discrimination, performing better than test subject who did not take piano lessons. This MIT research was performed in a school in Beijing, China. Following the findings, the school continued to offer musical training to its pupils.

As a consequence, the study has sparked a very positive wave of interests towards implementing music tutoring programs as a vital part of the linguistic development of kids, as opposed to simply focusing more on reading and spelling.

he new MIT study confirms previous findings, including the fact that musicians outperform non-musicians in various tasks, including reading comprehension, discerning speech from other background noise, as well as auditory processing. The groundbreaking “selling point” of the recent MIT research was definitely the fact that the new study applies a much deeper degree of control, not only focused on people with musical training but actually assign music lessons to the children involved, overseeing the process from an even earlier stage.

Source: MIT News