March 17, 2009

Music instruction helps children read

Children exposed to a multiyear program of music training display superior cognitive performance in reading skills, U.S. researchers said.

Joseph M. Piro and Camilo Ortiz of Long Island University studied children in two elementary schools -- one of which routinely trained children in music and one that did not.

The 46 children in the intervention school studied piano formally for a period of three consecutive years as part of a comprehensive instructional intervention program. The 57 children attending the control school received no formal musical training on any musical instrument and had never taken music lessons as part of their general school curriculum or in private study. Both schools followed comprehensive balanced literacy programs that integrate skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening.

All participants were individually tested to assess their reading skills at the start and close of a standard 10-month school year using the Structure of Intellect measure.

The study, published in the journal Psychology of Music, found results showed that the music-learning group had significantly better vocabulary and verbal sequencing scores than did the non-music-learning control group.