Lots of things change the brain (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show), and one of these is music. At a time when school budgets are being slashed, with music and art the first to go, new insight has arrived about how music lessons strengthen the brain. When children learn to play a musical instrument, they strengthen a range of auditory skills, and these benefits last all through their lives, for as long as they continue to listen to music. These music lessons lead to changes in the brain that persist for YEARS after the lessons stop.

And the benefits don’t just extend to music: researchers have found that former music students have an easier time learning foreign languages, for instance.

And those music lessons should be started early: In the September 11 edition of the New York Times, Perri Klass quotes auditory neuroscientist Nina Kraus as saying, "To learn to read, you need to have good working memory, the ability to disambiguate speech sounds, make sound-to-meaning connections. Each one of these things really seems to be strengthened with active engagement in playing a musical instrument."

As you get older (and perhaps a little bit deaf), music skills come in handy in a different way. Klass quotes researcher Claude Alain as saying, "We often refer to the ‘cocktail party’ problem–or imagine going to a restaurant where a lot of people are talking. The older adults who are musically trained perform better on speech in noise tests–it involves the brain rather than the peripheral hearing system."

But MOST of all, music is there to be ENJOYED. Klass quotes researcher Alexandra Parbery-Clark as saying, "We want music to be recognized for what it can be in a person’s life, not necessarily, ‘Oh, we want you to have better cognitive skills, so we’re going to put you in music.’ Music is great, music is fantastic, music is social–let them enjoy it for what it really is."

Who else is going to tell you the truth about what’s going on–about music and everything else? Here at unknowncountry.com, we pride ourselves on telling you the truth–and we CORRECT OURSELVES if we’re wrong! If you prefer truth to propaganda, make sure we’re still around tomorrow to keep telling it: Subscribe to this site today (and if you subscribe for two years, you’ll get a FREE crop circle calendar!)

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