From a study by Register D, Darrow AA, Standley J, and Swedberg O:
The purpose of the present study was to determine the efficacy of using music as a remedial strategy to enhance the reading skills of second-grade students and students who have been identified as having a specific learning disability (SLD) in reading. First, an intensive short-term music curriculum was designed to target reading comprehension and vocabulary skills at the second grade level. The curriculum was then implemented in classrooms at two public schools in the Southeast. Reading skills were evaluated pre and post curriculum intervention via the vocabulary and reading comprehension subtests of the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test for second grade. Analysis of pre/posttest data revealed that students with a specific disability in reading improved significantly from pre to post on all three subtests: word decoding (p = .04), word knowledge (p = .01), reading comprehension (p = .01), and test total (p = .01). Paired t-tests revealed that for 2nd grade students, both treatment and control classes improved significantly from pre to post on the subtests word decoding, word knowledge, and test total. While both classes made gains from pre to post on the subtest, reading comprehension, neither improved significantly. Analysis of Covariance revealed that the treatment class made greater gains pre to post than the control class on all 3 subtests (Including reading comprehension), and significantly greater gains on the subtest, word knowledge [emphasis added] (p = .01).
Although we know from previous studies that normal children at this age level given music lessons improve significantly, this study specifically addresses students with learning disabilities. The significant gains imparted by music lessons to learning-disabled students should inspire parents of those children that their children’s brain function can be enhanced with music lessons, which will then improve their reading, and many other skills as well.