Music learning is studied in two basic ways with children – as a tool to understand and enhance typical brain development and a tool to improve delayed brain development that has been impacted by environmental or medical factors. These latter factors could be living in challenging circumstances due to loss of hearing from an accident or medical issues. Music learning is both a tool for understanding and an intervention for difficulties.
This study looked at children using cochlear implants between the age of 6-9 years due to prelingual sensorineural hearing loss. The study was pseudorandomized, which means through the use of waitlists, students did not elect if they went into the control of the music group. The students had just 12 weeks of a music therapy session and a take-home music learning/listening app.
Here is what they found;
- There were no changes for any outcomes for the passive control group.
- After music training, perception of speech-in-noise, question/statement prosody, musical timbre, and spectral resolution improved significantly, as did measures of music appreciation.
- There were no benefits for emotional prosody or pitch perception.
This list of improvements in itself is amazing. At the young age of 6-9 years, to be able to distinguish so much more within speech would no doubt set these students up for greater success in their futures. And all in just 12 weeks of music learning and therapy.