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What’s the Right Age to Begin Music Lessons? Research has found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas. Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music. For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, says Kenneth Guilmartin, cofounder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through kindergarteners that involves parents or caregivers in the classes. While children come into the world ready to decode sounds and words, music education helps enhance those natural abilities. According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain.
Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. This relationship between music and language development is also socially advantageous to young children. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and a practicing musician. Language competence is at the root of social competence.
Musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, as published in a 2004 issue of Psychological Science, found a small increase in the IQs of six-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons. Surprisingly, the children who were given music lessons over the school year tested on average three IQ points higher than the other groups. The drama group didn’t have the same increase in IQ, but did experience increased social behavior benefits not seen in the music-only group. Research indicates the brain of a musician, even a young one, works differently than that of a nonmusician.
There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. In fact, a study led by Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, found changes in the brain images of children who underwent 15 months of weekly music instruction and practice. Research has also found a causal link between music and spatial intelligence, which means that understanding music can help children visualize various elements that should go together, like they would do when solving a math problem. Pruett, who helped found the Performing Arts Medicine Association. These skills come into play in solving multistep problems one would encounter in architecture, engineering, math, art, gaming, and especially working with computers.