What's the Latest Development?

A paper recently published in Frontiers in Psychology reveals that a group of German schoolchildren, ages 7 and 8, who received special music instruction beyond the basic school curriculum showed improved verbal memory across an 18-month period compared to a group that received extracurricular instruction in math and general studies as well as a group that received no additional instruction. In addition, say the researchers, the improvement was continuous over time, even after adjusting the model for individual IQ and age influences.

What's the Big Idea?

Lots of opinions exist on the types of extracurricular instruction kids should receive, but this study, in addition to previous studies done with children in Canada and Hong Kong, makes a persuasive case for music lessons. The researchers say that one possible reason for the findings is the way in which music is learned, which bears some similarity to how language is learned. "Playing music requires continued monitoring of meaningful chunks of information...these chunks entail clusters of notes that are combined into meaningful melodic gestures and phrases." 

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