A study from Northwestern University shows that music class benefits low income children’s reading ability.
Children from low income families spend less time reading, which inhibits their reading fluency and vocabulary. Music and language skills involve auditory processing, so researchers wanted to measure the effect of music classes on children’s reading ability.
The study measured 42 children from the wait list for the Harmony Project, a nonprofit which provides free music classes to low income children. They were randomly placed in music or non music classes. The group had roughly the same reading ability and had never before received music instruction.
After a year, children taking the music class showed greater improvement in reading abilities than their counterparts in non-music classes. Standardized testing was used.
“We show that musically-trained children maintained their … level of reading ability after one year, whereas a matched control group’s performance deteriorated over the same time period,” researchers explained. “While we did not see a positive improvement in reading ability in the trained group, we interpret the decline in age-normed reading scores in our passive control group as consistent with the expected negative trajectory of performance in a low-income population.”