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Teachers 'could help children learn languages through music'

22/02/2010 Joanna
Staff in education jobs who teach pupils how to play musical instruments could also be helping them learn languages, a study has found.

Learning to play an instrument could increase the brain's sensitivity to sounds including speech, researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago have suggested.

Tests found that exposure to music could be beneficial to the developing brain and might have advantages for all children, including those with dyslexia and autism.

Study leader Professor Nina Kraus said playing a musical instrument had an impact on automatic processing in the brainstem, the part of the brain which governs the heartbeat, breathing and reaction to noise.

She said: "Playing music engages the ability to extract relevant patterns, such as the sound of one's own instrument, harmonies and rhythms, from the 'soundscape'.

"Playing an instrument may help youngsters better process speech in noisy classrooms and more accurately interpret the nuances of language that are conveyed by subtle changes in the human voice."

She added that pupils with disabilities could be helped with auditory training.

The findings may come as no surprise for staff in teaching jobs who work with autistic children.

A National Autistic Society spokeswoman said music can help autistic children to relax, express emotion and communicate and interact with those around them.ADNFCR-2164-ID-19630027-ADNFCR
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