We all know what music does for the soul, our mood and and some cases the body. Now, more and more medical research is connecting the dots between musical input and better brain function. Just one more reason why we believe with such a passion that musical education is absolutely essential for young people. The facts are piling up that music doesn’t just make you happy – it makes you smarter, too!
Children who learn to play a musical instrument may benefit far beyond just learning how to entertain family and friends with a rendition of Mozart or Tchaikovsky, new evidence suggests.
Researchers from the University of Vermont College found that musical training helps children focus their attention, control their emotions, and diminish anxiety. To date, the researchers claim this is the largest investigation of the association between children who practice music and brain development.
In the study, published in the Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the research team examined the brain scans of 232 children ages 6 to 18 to discover how musical training affects the cortex.
Previous research has shown that as children age, the cortex (the outer layer of the brain) changes in thickness. The thickness of the cortex is especially enhanced with the occurrence of anxiety, depression, and aggression in children, even among children who are not diagnosed with a disorder or mental illness.
The findings revealed that musical training altered the children’s cortex and the motor areas of the brain. This is believed to have occurred because musical training requires control and coordination of movement. Therefore, musical practice correlated with changes in the behavior-regulating areas of the brain.
Furthermore, the findings suggest that playing the piano or violin many help children with emotional processing and inhibitory control. Musical training may have a positive effect on children who suffer from anxiety and depression.
Musical training can equip children with the foundational skills to not only learn and develop, but also help ease anxiety and harness their attention.