It’s a well-known scenario, for years you pay out a small fortune for children’s music lessons and then one day it’s all over and the violin, flute, guitar or keyboard gets stuffed into the back of a cupboard never to see daylight again.
Researchers at Northwestern University have recently completed a study which can make parents feel a little better when their offspring fail to morph into clones of Johann Sebastian Bach. When the scientists tested groups of adults aged 55 to 76, those who had studied a musical instrument for between four and 14 years as a child, even if they had not practiced in decades, had considerably better “neural timing” than those who had not.
The study proved that playing a musical instrument not only improves hearing skills but offers very long-term benefits. Neural timing is part of auditory processing that affects the ability to interpret speech and is a skill that frequently declines in older people.