Really? Yes! When I found this article in my email box this morning, I was over the moon! It was so obvious, because I have long felt that my ease in understanding a new language comes in large part from music. Granted, I have never focused on one foreign language long enough to learn it, but that is my failing in focus and devoting the time, not lack of ability.
In a recent blog on NeuronetLearning.com, the author cites a 2013 study in the American Journal of Psychology. The study took two groups of musicians, some who were highly skilled, and another group who had lower skills in music. They created an artificial language based on International Morse Code alphabet, and used it to examine the musicians’ ability to understand new language sequences.
The musicians who described themselves as highly skilled, were able to complete the tasks with no additional materials. Those whose musical skills were not as advanced required additional resources to complete the tasks. I would like to have seen a third group, with no musical background. I believe it would have given an even more eye-opening result. It seems that musicians have an edge in understanding vowel sequence, accent, duration, pitch and tone. Does this sound familiar to my musical friends?
Music is so important – give your kids a chance at it!
Shook, Anthony, Viorica Marian, James Bartolotti, and Scott R. Schroeder. 2013. “Musical Experience Influences Statistical Learning of a Novel Language.” The American Journal of Psychology 126(1):95–104