Benefits of Music Training Are Widespread and Lifelong

A Bibliographic Review of Their Non-Musical Effects

W. J. Dawson

Recent publications indicate that musical training has effects on non-musical activities, some of which are lifelong. This study reviews recent publications collected from the Performing Arts Medicine Association bibliography. Music training, whether instrumental or vocal, produces beneficial and long-lasting changes in brain anatomy and function. Anatomic changes occur in brain areas devoted to hearing, speech, hand movements, and coordination between both sides of the brain. Functional benefits include improved sound processing and motor skills, especially in the upper extremities. Training benefits extend beyond music skills, resulting in higher IQs and school grades, greater specialized sensory and auditory memory/recall, better language memory and processing, heightened bilateral hand motor functioning, and improved integration and synchronization of sensory and motor functions. These changes last long after music training ends and can minimize or prevent age-related loss of brain cells and some mental functions. Early institution of music training and prolonged duration of training both appear to contribute to these positive changes.

Journal Medical Problems of Performing Artists
Year 2014
Volume 29
Issue 2
Pages 57ff

Dawson, W. J. (2014) Benefits of Music Training Are Widespread and Lifelong: A Bibliographic Review of Their Non-Musical Effects. In: Medical Problems of Performing Artists, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 57ff. Available at


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