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Music and Verbal Memory

We were very encouraged to see the following synopsis in a Schafer Autism Report. A 2003 study published in the Journal Neuropsychology which showed that children with musical training had significantly better verbal memory than those without, and the longer the music training, the better the verbal memory.

The following account was enough for me to enroll Evy at age 5 1/2 in piano lessons. He is doing quite well in piano and verbal memory skills. My opinion is that it is helping his concentration, confidence and ability to focus. It may be having an effect on his verbal memory, but there is no way to determine that scientifically. He enjoys playing, and is eager to practice daily. We feel it has nicely replaced the intensive table work and tutoring that he received in 2001-2002. In 2007, it continues to be a good experience. While we began with the Beanstalks piano course, we have come to prefer the Bastiens' Invitation to Music preperatory series. These books begin with the earliest learner who doesn't yet know numbers and letters. Each level includes a Performance book, a Piano Party book and a Theory book. All three have been thoughtfully crafted to build a musical education from the ground up. We have been very pleased with each level in the series, and the boys have enjoyed them. All four levels in the Invitation to Music Series are found at Allegro Music Online. An additional visual help for music reading was necessary for Everett. His piano teacher recommended the Magnetic Two-sided Music Board (item 794) at the Friendship House. As Evy aged, he seemed to prefer the John Thompson Method books and as of December 2007 has almost completed Grade 1. As a side note, he recently was asked to retell a Tall Tale to his cub scout troop, and I watched with anxiety unsure if he would remember the tale. After a hesitant start, it seems he must have recalled nearly every page of the book. I would say his verbal memory is doing quite well!

Study: Music Helps Kids' Verbal Memory

[Thanks to Tashia Berman and the Schafer Autism Report.]

According to a new study, children with music training had significantly better verbal memory than those without such training, and the longer the training, the better the verbal memory. The research, conducted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was published in the most recent issue of the journal Neuropsychology.

Researchers studied 90 boys between the ages of 6 and 15. Half had musical training as members of their school's string orchestra program, plus lessons in playing classical music on Western instruments like the flute or violin for one to five years. The other 45 students had no training.

Students with musical training recalled more words in a verbal memory test than did untrained students, and after a 30-minute delay, students with training also retained more words than the control group. No differences were found for visual memory.

In a follow-up one year later, students who continued training and beginners who had just started learning to play both showed improvement in verbal learning and retention. But students who had stopped training three months after the first study failed to show any improvement, although they hadn't lost the verbal memory gains measured earlier.

"The present findings suggest that the experience of music training might improve the memory functioning that corresponds to neuroanatomical structures that might be modified by such training," said lead researcher Agnes Chan.

The citation to the article is as follows:

Music Training Improves Verbal but Not Visual Memory: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Explorations in Children Yim-Chi Ho, Mei-Chun Cheung, and Agnes S. Chan The Chinese University of Hong Kong Neuropsychology Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 2003, Vol. 17, No. 3, 439 – 450 0894-4105/03/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0894-4105.17.3.439