Perhaps high schools should start reconsidering abolishing the music program once they are threatened with a budget cut. According to a new research, music training has positive effects on the brain development of teens, giving them more tools to be successful later.
Researchers from Northwestern University's School of Communication found that teens who train for music develop better hearing. They also have a more enhanced language skill. Nina Kraus, the director of the department, stands as its senior author.
For the study, they chose at least 40 people from low-income families living in Chicago. The study began when they were in their first year of high school, just before the school opened, and ended when they reached their senior year. They attended the same school. Development of their brains was measured through electrodes. At the start of their study, initial recordings were noted.
By the time they reached their senior year, at least 20 of the students decided to join the school's music band, training for at least 2 hours per week for instrumental music. In the meantime, the others joined the ROTC (reserve officers' training corps), which had more emphasis on discipline and fitness.
Around this time, the researchers measured the brain's development again and discovered that those who joined the music band developed more sensitivity to sound and better hearing abilities. Meanwhile, although both of the groups had improved language skill, it was more pronounced among those who played music.
Based on the result of their studies, the researchers believe that music training is certainly not a waste of time and money for schools. In fact, it deserves to be part of a high school curriculum as it can boost the chances of success for teens. Music training can help students become more receptive to learning and promotes positive brain development.
The entire research is now available in PNAS.