Here is one of those research sentences that are so useful when we are explaining how music learning impacts on every child’s development.
“The results suggest that systematic extracurricular programs, particularly music-based training, may accelerate the development of inhibitory control and related brain networks earlier in childhood.”
This research paper is reporting on the progress of a five-year longitudinal study on children and music learning. It is specifically looking at inhibitory control, which is a sub-construct of executive function, and refers to the ability to suppress a primary response. In everyday terms, we use it to stop ourselves from saying something we shouldn’t (because it won’t help the situation), or not hit send on an email that we might have written in an aggressive or upset state of mind. Humans use inhibitory control all the time and being able to control it has been “shown to predict academic and career success, socioemotional wellbeing, wealth, and physical health.”
From this study, we are beginning to see that inhibitory control is being developed through music learning, specifically from the age of 6, but only after 3 years of music learning. This is such an important point to take away from this research, music learning needs to be ongoing to have cognitive benefits, so we need to look long term at every child’s music learning.