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Learning a musical instrument is something that many parents encourage their children to do from a young age.
Having the ability to play the guitar, drums, violin, piano or other such instrument is a great skill to have and could even open a door to a career that they not previously thought of. There are also health benefits as new research has linked moving time with a steady beat to better language in both speech and reading.
A team led by Nina Kraus at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois conducted a study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, which suggested that practising music could develop skills such as speech. The assessment involved over 100 teenagers who were asked to tap their fingers to a beat. The accuracy was measured by how closely the youngsters' responses matched the timing of a metronome.
The researchers also assessed the teenagers' brainwaves with electrodes by using a technique known as electroencephalography. This process is designed to monitor electrical activity in the brain in response to sound. Speaking to the BBC, Professor Kraus explained that those teenagers who had musical training had improved neural responses to speech.
She went on to say that children who have difficulty reading also struggle when it comes to this motor task and following the beat. The results suggests that by taking up a musical instrument youngsters could boost both their reading and speech skills.
John Iversen of the University of California in San Diego added: "This study adds another piece to the puzzle in the emerging story suggesting that musical-rhythmic abilities are correlated with improved performance in non-music areas, particularly language."
Parents that do encourage their child to take up a musical instrument may not just be opening their eyes to career possibilities as they learn a new skills but could be also significantly improving their reading and speech skills.
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written by Angela Newbury
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