Benefits of early music education

A new study in the Journal of Neuroscience examines the long-term benefits of music lessons early in life. The researchers, from Northwestern University, studied age-related declines in hearing that cause older adults to experience difficulty understanding speech, especially in challenging listening environments. The found that even moderate music training—as little as 4 years—early in life offsets the declines in these hearing deficits. The adults studied had significantly better auditory responses to speech—compared to controls—even though they have stopped playing music more than 40 years earlier. Although the study size was modest (44 healthy adults), the significant “protection” provided by childhood music lessons provide additional evidence (and see here) for the value of early music training, as emphasized in Waldorf Education. These results highlight the risks of the severe reductions in music education in many schools in the USA.