A recently published study by MIT’s Robert Desimone, senior author of the paper and director of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, draws the conclusion that young children taking piano lessons improve their language skills more quickly than those who do not.

The six month study split 74 four to five year old Mandarin speaking children into 3 groups. One group received 45 minutes or piano lessons per week, another group received 45 minutes of reading lessons per week while the final group received no additional lessons.

The children didn’t differ in the broader cognitive measures, but they did show some improvements in word discrimination, particularly for consonants. The piano group showed the best improvement there.” confirms Robert Desimone.

The language is very dry as you would expect from a scientific paper, for example –

Musical training is beneficial to speech processing, but this transfer’s underlying brain mechanisms are unclear. Using pseudorandomised group assignments with 74 4- to 5-year-old Mandarin-speaking children, we showed that, relative to an active control group which underwent reading training and a no-contact control group, piano training uniquely enhanced cortical responses to pitch changes in music and speech (as lexical tones). These neural enhancements further generalized to early literacy skills: Compared with the controls, the piano-training group also improved behaviourally in auditory word discrimination, which was correlated with their enhanced neural sensitivities to musical pitch changes. Piano training thus improves children’s common sound processing, facilitating certain aspects of language development as much as, if not more than, reading instruction.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It suggests that having piano lessons is possibly more beneficial for a child than having extra reading lessons. Previous research has shown how musicians tend to perform better than non-musicians in tasks such as rapid auditory processing, separating speech from background noise, and reading comprehension.

I blogged previously about the benefits of taking piano lessons; Does learning piano promote better school results? and Top 10 Health Benefits of Playing the Piano which reinforce that taking piano lessons is not only fun, but it helps improve your brain (whatever age you are) and your health.

If you would like to take your very first piano lesson or add to your existing piano education, please book a lesson with me today, you can book online.