Environment & Science

Neuroscience researchers say 2-year study shows making music helps sharpen kids' brainpower

Kevin Santiago, from left, Liam Larsen, Esmeralda Martinez blow on their trombone mouthpieces during their trombone lesson offered by Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that provides free music lessons to low-income students, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. A two-year study of dozens of schoolchildren from disadvantaged Los Angeles neighborhoods shows that music training changes the brain in ways that make it easier for youngsters to process sounds, according to results reported in Tuesday's edition of the journal Neuroscience.
Kevin Santiago, from left, Liam Larsen, Esmeralda Martinez blow on their trombone mouthpieces during their trombone lesson offered by Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that provides free music lessons to low-income students, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. A two-year study of dozens of schoolchildren from disadvantaged Los Angeles neighborhoods shows that music training changes the brain in ways that make it easier for youngsters to process sounds, according to results reported in Tuesday's edition of the journal Neuroscience.
Jae C. Hong/AP
Kevin Santiago, from left, Liam Larsen, Esmeralda Martinez blow on their trombone mouthpieces during their trombone lesson offered by Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that provides free music lessons to low-income students, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. A two-year study of dozens of schoolchildren from disadvantaged Los Angeles neighborhoods shows that music training changes the brain in ways that make it easier for youngsters to process sounds, according to results reported in Tuesday's edition of the journal Neuroscience.
Trombone instructor Shelly Suminski shows her class how to assemble a trombone during a trombone lesson offered by Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that provides free music lessons to low-income students, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. A two-year study of dozens of schoolchildren from disadvantaged Los Angeles neighborhoods shows that music training changes the brain in ways that make it easier for youngsters to process sounds, according to results reported in Tuesday's edition of the journal Neuroscience.
Jae C. Hong/AP
Kevin Santiago, from left, Liam Larsen, Esmeralda Martinez blow on their trombone mouthpieces during their trombone lesson offered by Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that provides free music lessons to low-income students, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. A two-year study of dozens of schoolchildren from disadvantaged Los Angeles neighborhoods shows that music training changes the brain in ways that make it easier for youngsters to process sounds, according to results reported in Tuesday's edition of the journal Neuroscience.
Karina Reyes, left, and Damaris Marquez, right, share a laugh with their trombone instructor Shelly Suminski during a lesson offered by Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that provides free music lessons to low-income students, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. A two-year study of dozens of schoolchildren from disadvantaged Los Angeles neighborhoods shows that music training changes the brain in ways that make it easier for youngsters to process sounds, according to results reported in Tuesday's edition of the journal Neuroscience.
Jae C. Hong/AP


Northwestern University researchers believe that music training has played a role in the educational achievements of children in a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that provides free music lessons to low-income students.

The founder of the Harmony Project says the students graduate from high school and attend big universities more often than their counterparts in the city's gang-ridden neighborhoods.

According to results reported in Tuesday's edition of The Journal of Neuroscience, a two-year study of 44 children in the program shows that the training changes the brain in ways that make it easier for youngsters to process sounds

That increased ability, they say, is linked directly to improved skills in such subjects as reading and speech.

Researchers say more study is needed to determine the best learning approaches for children.