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8/1/13blog post

music to my ears!

By: Dr. Patricia Abboud

At the beginning of last school year my then 9 year old son announced that he wanted to play the bass in the school orchestra. He thought the instrument was great and he had the encouragement of the orchestra teacher. At first I thought “WONDERUL”, he is the most musically inclined of my children and this would be something he would enjoy. As he finished his first year of Orchestra, I found this article which further supported my decision to ‘stick with it’.

Researchers out of Canada found that music training in children younger than 7 years significantly enhances the part of the brain that controls sensorimotor abilities.

The study investigators tested 36 adult musicians on a nonmusical movement task and then scanned their brains to look at the area of nerve connections between motor and sensory areas. Half the participants had begun their music education before age 7; the other half had started at a later age. They were compared to a group that had little or no music education. Brain scans showed that the musicians with early training showed more white matter (the sensorimotor part) than the other groups. In addition, the younger the age when they began their training, the greater the nerve connections.


In addition, early music training was found to affect other motor skills. The skill test given to all participants was not related to music or playing an instrument, but those musicians who learned to play before 7 years showed more accurate timing compared with the other groups, even after 2 days of practice.

The researchers say that the findings confirm that brain developments related to music training occur early or not at all, and the years between ages 6 and 8 are when the child’s brain is most sensitive to the music-related boost in maturation of connections between motor and sensory regions.

As the school year is quickly approaching, think twice before denying your ‘young Beethoven’ music lessons. Although my son started ‘late’ (at age 9 years) according to this study, I think I am willing to continue paying the rental of the bass, taking him to and from extra practice and listen to the semi-disturbing sounds that may emanate from his bass every now and then hoping that he is strengthening the sensorimotor framework on which his skills and behavior will grow!

By: Patricia Abboud, MD – “Dr. Mom Squad”

Dr. Abboud is a pediatric intensivist at Dayton Children’s and the mother of three kids. As part of the “Dr. Mom Sqaud,” Dr. Abboud blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Abboud!

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