Today's economic environment demands that our children become the very best they can be. But not all methods, from flashcards to baby signing, actually boost a child's intelligence, language skills or other abilities for success. Music training is the only proven method to boost the full intellectual, linguistic and emotional capacity of a child.
According to the studies, just one hour a week of learning music is enough for the full brain benefits to take place – including an all-round boost in language skills and a significant increase in IQ.
In Finland, the average person speaks three to five languages – after all, no one understands our obscure native tongue. But Finland's peculiar custom of early music training where even babies and toddlers learn core music skills through songs and games, may also influence the fluency of foreign-language speaking Finns. As music training boosts all the language-related networks in the brain, we would expect it to be beneficial in the acquisition of foreign languages, and this is what the studies have found.
When children start studying music before the age of seven, they develop bigger vocabularies, a better sense of grammar and a higher verbal IQ. These advantages benefit both the development of their mother tongue and the learning of foreign languages. During these crucial years, the brain is at its sensitive development phase, with 95% of the brain's growth occurring now. Music training started during this period also boosts the brain's ability to process subtle differences between sounds and assist in the pronunciation of languages – and this gift lasts for life, as it has been found that adults who had musical training in childhood still retain this ability to learn foreign languages quicker and more efficiently than adults who did not have early childhood music training.
Humans first started creating music 500,000 years ago, yet speech and language was only developed 200,000 years ago. Evolutionary evidence, as interpreted by leading researchers such as Robin Dunbar from Oxford University, indicates that speech as a form of communication has evolved from our original development and use of music. This explains why our music and language neural networks have significant overlap, and why children who learn music become better at learning the grammar, vocabulary and pronounciation of any language.
Read more in Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay's article @ The Guardian