New You Can Use: Are Music Lessons Good for Kids’ Brains?

By Lela Nargi

Likely you remember a scenario like this: a young you, looking forward to dinner and TV after a long day at school, scrambling to finish your homework by dim winter’s light, only to hear your mother’s admonition, “Time to practice!”

Unless you were a true music aficionado, you probably wanted nothing more than to be let off the hook for that half-hour of tootling on your piano, or your flute, or your sousaphone. You counted off the days until the end of the year when, your parents had promised, you could quit the lessons. But years later, here you are with kids of your own and to your own shock, for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on, you find yourself determined that they, too, should be subjected music lessons.

Now, you’ve got science to explain that nagging sensation that all this must be good for you. According to a study published last year in the Journal of the Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,  researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine determined that music training helps kids develop their brains, their attention spans, and their emotional control.

Dr. James Hudziak and colleagues used MRIs to scan the brains of 232 children aged 6 to 18, three times at 2-year intervals. Analyzing the data, they discovered that playing music alters the motor areas of the brain, “because the activity requires control and coordination of movement,” according to an article in Science Daily.

Additionally, playing an instrument thickens various parts of the brain that are responsible for executive functioning, including “working memory, attention control and organizational sills,” according to Mic.com. “In short, music actually helped kids become more well-rounded.”

Is it too late for us parents to go back and revive their own music educations? The science is still out!

Photograph by Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr.