Music Instruction Improves Vocabulary

Thanks this time goes to Deric Bownds’ Mindblog, where Dr. Bownds is aggregating research, as I am. Dr. Bownds blogged about a study by Marie Forgeard, Ellen Winner, Andrea Norton, and Gottfried Schlaug:

Children who received at least three years (M = 4.6 years) of instrumental music training outperformed their control counterparts on two outcomes closely related to music (auditory discrimination abilities and fine motor skills) and on two outcomes distantly related to music (vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills). Duration of training also predicted these outcomes. Contrary to previous research, instrumental music training was not associated with heightened spatial skills, phonemic awareness, or mathematical abilities.


While these results are correlational only, the strong predictive effect of training duration suggests that instrumental music training may enhance auditory discrimination, fine motor skills, vocabulary, and nonverbal reasoning.

It’s becoming clearer with every study that there is no simple cause and effect between, say, music training and math, but that rather there’s a complex system in place where we can definitively say that musical training provides significant benefits, but we have no adequate system at present to accurately measure what those benefits will be. There’s certainly a need to keep researching but it appears that clear-cut answers are not likely in the short term as we need to restructure our thinking about brain function (I’m reminded of Haldane’s quote here). There is no question, however, that musical training does benefit people of all ages, from very early to seniors.

oil painting; old man in suit stands to left of girl seated at square piano; room has green damask wallpaper and wood floors, vase of peonies on piano

Grandfather Teaching Girl Pianoforte

With the new year upon us, isn’t it time to make a permanent change in our lives for the better? Enroll yourself and your loved ones of all ages into musical training and receive the benefits in health, mental functioning, financial return, stability, and the societal and cultural benefits.

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