Early Music Lessons Linked to Better Brain Development

March 28, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings 
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. motor skills 
[MOH-ter skils] (n.) – the ability to control the muscles of the body to create a specific movement
Example:  Walking is one of the first motor skills that a child learns.

2. comparable [KOM-per-uh-buh l] (adj.) – similar or equal
Example: Tom’s and his brother’s comparable singing ability makes it hard to tell who is better.

3. accuracy [AK-yer-uh-see] (n.) – the condition of being true or exact; without mistake or error
Example: Researchers conducted the experiment twice to ensure the accuracy of its results.

4. in turn [in TURN] (adv.) – in a similar way as something previously mentioned; accordingly or similarly
Example: Learning a new skill develops a child’s self-confidence, which in turn improves his or her ability to interact with others.

5. showmanship [SHOH-muh n-ship] (n.) – the ability to perform in an interesting and entertaining way
Example: In dance competitions, judges often base the contestants’ scores on technical skills and showmanship.

Read the text below.

A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience [noo r-oh-SAHY-uh ns, nyoo r-] revealed that people who started piano or violin lessons before the age of seven have more brain connections than those who took lessons at a later age or had not taken any at all.

These brain connections are permanent and are linked to better motor skills.

The researchers from Montreal studied 36 musicians, with a comparable skill level, and 17 non-musicians. Among the musicians, 18 started musical training before the age of seven while the remaining 18 began between the ages eight and 18. The participants underwent brain scans and took a test that would evaluate their visual and motor response, as well as the accuracy of their timing.

Results showed that the early-trained musicians performed better in the test than those who started later, who in turn did better than the non-musicians.

Meanwhile, the brain scans of the early-trained musicians revealed that the earlier musicians train, the more brain tissue [TISH-oo] connections they had. These brain tissue connections are responsible for better hand coordination. However, musicians who started training after the age of seven had the same amount of tissue connections as the non-musicians. These findings therefore suggest that certain brain connections can only develop at a very early age.

Virginia Penhune, co-author of the study, stated that the results did not necessarily mean that early-trained musicians are better musicians. Penhune added that other factors should be considered aside from coordination, such as expressiveness and showmanship.

Viewpoint Discussion 
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think musical training is necessary for a child’s development? Why or why not?
·         In your opinion, how else can music education improve a child’s development?

Discussion B

·         What other activities do you think are helpful to a child’s development? Please explain your answer.
·         What activities are harmful to a child’s physical and mental growth? Explain your answer.


March 28, 2013