Weird how one thing leads to another. Either that or Google is watching me closer than I thought. Could be. Anyway, after posting Victor Wooten’s talk about how learning language and learning music can be the same, here’s the first year of data from a longitudinal study from Sean Hutchins at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada. The study measured language and music skills in younglings after their first year of formal music study.
One question I have: The kids are studying in a conservatory setting, so that means they’re probably reading (or learning to read) sheet music. I’m convinced that’s not the best way to start kids out (see VW’s talk to get a taste of why that is), but that decoding skill has gotta be very closely related to reading words. I don’t have access to the full study, alas, so I can’t get answers to these questions. It’s still a fascinating connection. I’m suer glad to see it’s a longitudinal study and look forward to hearing about future findings.
Details from the abstract of the study [snip]
Here, we present the first year of data from an ongoing longitudinal study, aimed at finding if measurable improvements in musical and linguistic abilities can be seen among children taking music classes. We studied 90 children (age 3–6) who were enrolled to take group classes in a conservatory setting. We measured their musical, language, and perceptual abilities both at the beginning and the ending of the school year. Pre vs. post comparisons showed an increase in vocabulary size, pre-reading skills, and singing ability; these increases were beyond what could be attributed to normal development during the time. We also found that singing ability was correlated with language skills. Taken together, these results show that early childhood music training can lead to associated improvements in both musical skills and language skills, strengthening the evidence for a developmental link between these two abilities.