Music lessons are known to improve cognitive development in older children. But can lessons benefit kids as young as 6 months? Infants who had six months of interactive music lessons starting at 6 months of age had more sophisticated musical understanding, early language skills and advanced brain development than babies in passive-listening music classes, according to a report in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Ciaran, of Burlington, Ontario, had his brain activity tracked in a music study.
The Canadian study’s 34 infant participants did weekly hourlong music lessons at two government-sponsored centers in Ontario from 2008 to 2009. Twenty were assigned to teacher-led classes involving singing, movement and playing percussion instruments. The other 14 listened to classical music while playing with toys.
At 12 months, infants in the active music group demonstrated strong preferences for music that conformed to Western musical structure, whereas the passive music group had no particular musical preferences, tests showed. EEG recordings indicated significant differences in the babies’ brain responses to music at 12 months of age but not at 6 months, when the study began. Active-music infants had larger and earlier brain responses to piano tones than passive-music babies. The active-music babies were more socially advanced and easier to soothe, according to a questionnaire completed by their parents.