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Tom Barnes, Staff Writer for Mic.com's music section reports, "Humans have been making music since the beginning of time. We learn more every day."
More recently, science has helped us start to understand it — everything from how its waves move through time and space to how it heals and empowers us. The more we discover, the more we recognize its importance and power. But the more we know, the more questions we have.
The past few years have produced some groundbreaking findings in our music knowledge. Here are seven of the most impressive:
1. Learning music has a positive effect on teenagers' brains.
When budgets are tight in America's schools, among the first areas cut are often music class offerings. But that is to the detriment of our children's futures, as a June study out of Northwestern University underlines.
Previous research has uncovered numerous benefits of music education for young children, including how it improves spatio-temporal reasoning, verbal skills and impulse control. The June study proves that musical training can have similarly powerful neurological impacts right up through adolescence.
Researchers found that music accelerates neural development and can improve phonological awareness language skills. "Although learning to play music does not teach skills that seem directly relevant to most careers, the results suggest that music may engender what educators refer to as 'learning to learn,'" Nina Kraus, senior study author and director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at the School of Communication, said, according to Medical Xpress.
2. We can all be taught how to achieve perfect pitch ...
To everyone who has been told they can't hold a tune: there's hope. According to a February study out of Northwestern University, singing in key is a skill that can be learned, like any musical instrument. Researchers came to this conclusion by testing the singing abilities of three groups with varying musical experience: kindergartners, sixth graders and college-aged adults. Sixth graders turned out to be the most in-tune singers. College students' skills were comparable to kindergartners.
"Our study suggests that adults who may have performed better as children lost the ability when they stopped singing," Steven Demorest, lead researcher and professor of music education at Northwestern, said, according to Science Daily. But his research suggests that if adults were to start practicing again, they could get their skills right back.