Contented Partners: Math and Music?

Is your kid in the school choir?  Does he play the saxophone?  How about the drums, like my son (who is driving me crazy with all his pounding on walls and coffee cans and the floor and just about anything that makes a sound when you hit it).

Well, be grateful, not annoyed.  A new study has found that even the smallest bit of musical training in early childhood provides a boost to the brain as an adult.

According to, "Researchers discovered that, despite not having played an instrument in nearly 40 years, (the) participants who completed 4-14 years of music training early in life had the fastest response to (a) speech sound (approximately a millisecond faster than those without music training)."  The faster the response, the better the brain activity

The story relates this to neural timing, and states that "neural timing is the first to go in aging adults."  Experts define neural ability as the physical basis for thoughts, feelings and perceptions.

Other studies have found that musicians use both sides of their brain more frequently than the rest of us.  And reported in 2011 that musicians' brains are so highly developed, they're more alert, interested in learning and see "the whole picture in a calm and playful way," comparing them to "world-class athletes, top-level managers, and individuals who practice transcendental meditation."

And there's also the connection between music and math, which share similarities -- music often has some mathematical qualities and artisic elements can be found in math.

So, what does this mean in the real world?  Well, for one thing, musicians' brains are sharper because they can spot and correct mistakes more easily. But I guess I can prove it all in a different way.  My son is quite good at math, but I, who played piano (badly) for about six years, flunked just about every math course I've ever taken!


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