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Music Lessons can Help Disadvantaged Kids Improve their Brains

A new study from Northwestern University offers hope to children who are growing up in disadvantaged neighborhoods and families. The research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, reveals that music affects the brain in positive ways and may help close the income gap. This information relates to previous studies that found music can improve memory, learning and other aspects of the brain.

Previous research found that underprivileged children often score lower on language development than children in higher income brackets. This is linked to overall achievement in school, and scientists have learned that disadvantaged children take longer to process words in addition to having smaller vocabularies. Now, music offers them a way to change their destiny and actually improve their brains.

Researchers discovered that language and music are tied together, so it is not surprising that taking music lessons would help. They learned that music helped improve their language skills while changing their brains. However, one lesson is not enough to produce an impact, and students need at least two years of music education to produce results. It is this long-term commitment to music that matters in changing how students learn. It is easy to get discouraged sometimes while taking lessons, and parents often hear their children cry that they no longer want to continue. However, music teachers recommend having a goal such as playing a beautiful song on a piano to keep them motivated. Two years of lessons is the minimum that they need to complete to see positive brain transformations.

The results of the study are promising, but families are facing a challenge. Many schools are closing down their music programs and not offering any type of alternatives. Nevertheless, families can still find ways to take lessons because there are programs available from a variety of sources outside of schools, and some nonprofits have assistance in this category. The powerful impact of music should not be ignored, so parents are trying to keep their children in classes.

The new study is the latest research to support music’s positive influence on people’s lives. Music has been linked to memory improvement and has been investigated as an option to help people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Music is also seen as a positive force in general education by increasing achievement and test scores. It has been tied to improved visualization along with better language development. Music’s power should not be ignored.

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