Music Training Improves Vocabulary and Verbal Sequencing

From a study by Joseph M Piro and Camilo Ortiz:

The major aim of this quasi-experimental study was to examine the effects of a scaffolded music instruction program on the vocabulary and verbal sequencing skills of two cohorts of second-grade students. One group (n = 46) studied piano formally for a period of three consecutive years as part of a comprehensive instructional intervention program. The second group (n = 57) had no exposure to music lessons, either in school programs or private study. Both groups were assessed on two subtests from the Structure of Intellect (SOI) measure. Results revealed that the experimental group had significantly better vocabulary and verbal sequencing scores at post-test than did the control group. Data from this study will help to clarify the role of music study on cognition and shed light on the question of the potential of music to enhance school performance in language and literacy.

Results are mixed in studies of musical training on language development, but this study comes down squarely on the side of helping. As my faithful readers know, many more studies fall on the “helping” rather than “ineffective” side, and it’s not at all clear how music instruction benefits language, but this is yet more evidence that something as simple as learning to play an instrument can have lifelong consequences for good. Researchers as well as ordinary people can find all sorts of excuses not to involve children in learning to play music: the real question is, “What do you have to lose?”

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