Teach your baby about music!



Babies' brains benefit from music lessons, researchers find
May 9th, 2012 in Psychology & Psychiatry


After completing the first study of its kind, researchers at McMaster
University
have discovered that very early musical training benefits children
even before
they can walk or talk.

They found that one-year-old babies who participate in interactive
music classes
with their parents smile more, communicate better and show earlier and
more
sophisticated brain responses to music.

The findings were published recently in the scientific journals
Developmental
Science and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

"Many past studies of musical training have focused on older
children," says
Laurel Trainor, director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the
Mind. "Our
results suggest that the infant brain might be particularly plastic
with regard
to musical exposure."

Trainor, together with David Gerry, a music educator and graduate
student,
received an award from the Grammy Foundation in 2008 to study the
effects of
musical training in infancy. In the recent study, groups of babies and
their
parents spent six months participating in one of two types of weekly
music
instruction.

One music class involved interactive music-making and learning a small
set of
lullabies, nursery rhymes and songs with actions. Parents and infants
worked
together to learn to play percussion instruments, take turns and sing
specific
songs.

In the other music class, infants and parents played at various toy
stations
while recordings from the popular Baby Einstein series played in the
background.

Before the classes began, all the babies had shown similar
communication and
social development and none had previously participated in other baby
music
classes.

"Babies who participated in the interactive music classes with their
parents
showed earlier sensitivity to the pitch structure in music," says
Trainor.
"Specifically, they preferred to listen to a version of a piano piece
that
stayed in key, versus a version that included out-of-key notes.
Infants who
participated in the passive listening classes did not show the same
preferences.
Even their brains responded to music differently. Infants from the
interactive
music classes showed larger and/or earlier brain responses to musical
tones."

The non-musical differences between the two groups of babies were even
more
surprising, say researchers.

Babies from the interactive classes showed better early communication
skills,
like pointing at objects that are out of reach, or waving goodbye.
Socially,
these babies also smiled more, were easier to soothe, and showed less
distress
when things were unfamiliar or didn't go their way.

While both class types included listening to music and all the infants
heard a
similar amount of music at home, a big difference between the classes
was the
interactive exposure to music.

"There are many ways that parents can connect with their babies," says
study
coordinator Andrea Unrau. "The great thing about music is, everyone
loves it and
everyone can learn simple interactive musical games together."

Provided by McMaster University


"Babies' brains benefit from music lessons, researchers find." May
9th, 2012.
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-05-babies-brains-benefit-music-lessons.html
.


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