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The unseen benefits of music education.

Musicians are more successful than non-musicians in learning to incorporate sound patterns for a new language into words.

Children who are musically trained show stronger neural activation for pitch changes in speech and have better vocabulary and reading ability than children who did not receive musical training ".


- article published in The Science Daily Over and over again I see more and more research showing the benefits of a music education. I think one of the most frustrating things about being a piano teacher in Vancouver is the feeling that music is always on the fringes of an educational curriculum.


The arts are the first programs to receive cuts when the economy is depressed, and anyone considering a career in the music industry will not be guaranteed a passive income, if one exists.


So why should our educational institutions encourage students to participate in a seemingly "frivolous" endeavor? The best answer I can find can be summed up in one word: cross-training.


Think of it like this. Suppose you start a new fitness program, involving heavy weights and 20 minutes of cardio. If you are starting from scratch after not exercising for years, it will be a very difficult time for you. Now, let's say that before you just trained for a running marathon.


You don't yet have the muscle that weight training would provide, but you have a) really amazing cardio and b) the mental toughness to hold on. Now you are going to the gym with an edge, and your new fitness regimen at the gym will feel a lot easier. Music shouldn't be any different.


Music trains our brains to hear sounds embedded in a rich network of melodies. It can be the difference between having a slight accent when learning a second language, or a very bad accent.


Musicians are constantly memorizing new chord progressions and song structures, which only helps us when we are trying to memorize new words in a new language. There is also a ton of math in music theory.


In fact, some of the charts I referred to while studying advanced jazz theory in college looked a lot like trigonometry charts! A recent Rockefeller Foundation study found that music majors have the highest admission rate to medical schools, followed by biochemistry and the humanities.


If that's not enough, a musical education has helped a doctor named Leopold Auenbrugger develop an important diagnostic tool for use on patience suspected of containing fluid in the lungs.

Music had given him a sense of tones, trained his mind to hear sounds with keen awareness, and he used those skills he learned to tap a chest of patience to listen to the sounds of a fluid-filled lung, like those found with pneumonia.


So don't bypass a musical education. You don't know where or how the benefits of music education will show up in the years to come!

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The Science Daily

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