Music is good for the soul, but did you know that playing the piano can have many benefits? There are numerous benefits of playing piano that go far beyond cultivating a love for music and the acquisition of a new skill.
Parents, those piano lessons you inflicted upon your child at an early age did more wonders than you likely could have imagined. A new study found that early piano lessons in particular tend to help specifically with language skills.
The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at the mental benefits of musical training for young children. The study found that piano training enhances the neural processing of pitch and improves speech perception in children. Musical training confers advantages in speech-sound processing, which could play an important role in early childhood education.
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Seventy-four Mandarin-speaking children aged 4–5 were assigned to piano training, reading training, or a no-contact control group. Six months of piano training improved behavioral auditory word discrimination in general as well as word discrimination based on vowels compared with the kids who were in the control group.
The children who took piano lessons were far better at being able to pick up on subtle differences in the spoken word, having the ability to hear differences between similar consonants like “T” and “D”.
This is not the first study that has shown the language benefits of piano lessons for children; a study in the early 1990s discovered the “Mozart effect” in children, which showed early language development and spatial-temporal intelligence could be boosted by keyboard lessons for preschoolers.
There have been studies done in the past that have looked to the benefits of musical training for children, with one 2016 study linking musical training to better academic achievement, stronger math skills, and even improved movement and hearing.
With this recent study, it seems that having children take piano lessons at the ages of 4 to 5 can also benefit their language skills. Looks like those piano lessons paid off after all!