A Musical Vocabulary

by Abby @ Quaver on December 15, 2011

in In the Quaver Classroom!,Music Education News

In this edition of our peek at learning with music:

. . . A Musical Vocabulary!


When you think about music and vocabulary, your thoughts probably run toward Pitch and Pianissimo. Certainly, I love a good Tenuto as much as anyone, but there’s research that suggests that music education may be impacting other skill sets beyond the practice room.

Music training may, in fact, lead to enhanced verbal abilities.

You see, in most people, auditory stimuli — both music and speech — are processed in the same part of the brain.

Here are few research findings:

  1. Pitch Perception can be correlated to phonemic awareness and reading abilities
  2. Music Training can be associated with reading skills
  3. Children with language disorders benefit from intensive music training because responses to music and language stimuli overlap in the brain.*

How can you apply this in your home or classroom?

  • For children learning to read, provide the lyrics of nursery rhymes and other favorite songs. It allows them to see what they’re hearing (and singing!) and make stronger associations.
  • For older students, use songs with more advanced lyrical content to build their vocabularies and allow them to practice figuring out the meaning of words in context.
  • And here’s something for everyone: Researchers believe that music enhances plasticity in the brain across your lifetime. (Maybe that’s what’s allowed Pete Townsend to survive his rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.)

Experience joy in knowing that music has some positively marvelous side effects!

Have you seen music impact your students’ vocabularies, both in and outside of your classroom?

*Besson, M., Schon, D., Moreno, S., Santos, A. “Influence of musical expertise and musical Training on pitch processing in music and language.”Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 25: 3-4 (2007): 399-410.

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