Eric has experience teaching Violin, Viola, Piano, Composition and Music Theory. Below are some articles that demonstrate the long term benefits of music lessons that go beyond personal enrichment.
Music lessons may offer children intellectual benefits and fine-tune their sensitivity to emotion in speech, according to research by two University of Toronto psychologists presented at APA’s 2003 Annual Convention.
In one of the reported studies–in press at Psychological Science–E. Glenn Schellenberg, PhD, recruited 144 6-year-olds to take free weekly arts lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto for one year. He randomly assigned children to either keyboard or voice lessons–the experimental groups–or drama lessons or no lessons–the control groups. The drama lessons served to control for increases in IQ that could result from participation in any extracurricular activity, said Schellenberg.
He tested children’s IQ before and after the year of lessons, and found that while IQs increased across the board by about 4.5 points because of attending a year of school, scores for the children in the music groups increased an additional 2.5 points.
The researchers had expected high scores from the drama lessons group–given that using the voice to convey emotion is central to drama–and they were right. But they were surprised to find that children who took keyboard lessons scored just as high, and significantly better than the children who took voice or no lessons. What’s more, the researchers found similar results in additional studies with adults who had taken music lessons as children.
Thompson posited that the results may reveal a form of cognitive transfer–that perhaps the same area of the brain processes both speech prosody and music, and that “training in one domain would act to engage and refine those neural resources.” He plans to further explore the association and possibly test whether music training has implications for foreign language acquisition.
In a study of those who do keep playing, published this summer, researchers found that as musicians age, they experience the same decline in peripheral hearing, the functioning of the nerves in their ears, as nonmusicians. But older musicians preserve the brain functions, the central auditory processing skills that can help you understand speech against the background of a noisy environment.