Providing kids with an enjoyable and fulfilling sport experience is a prominent area of interest within sport psychology. The inspiring and sensible message being promoted by organizations like the Positive Coaching Alliance is among the most reputable endeavors of a field aimed entirely at helping people achieve. A current area of research lends credence to an activity, which is sometimes regrettably neglected in school curricula. Learning to play an instrument, has for some time, been known to provide children with long-term cognitive benefits.

Fortunately, a study by Franz & Hughes 2007, takes the evidence for musical training’s contribution to human growth and development a step further. In so doing, the case for at least some musical training starting at an early age is further solidified. Their research reveals how brain functioning differs in people with musical training in contrast to nonmusicians. Through testing 40 people from both nonmusical and musical backgrounds, the researchers determined that those who played an instrument had consistently faster reaction times overall. This is interesting in itself, but making the study even more thought provoking were the conclusions drawn from seeing those who began playing at around 7-8 years of age versus those who began closer to 12. The people who started later, showed better two-handed coordination and reaction times than either the younger group or the non-musicians.

Remarkably, it appears that learning to play an instrument at a particular age brings incredible results in the form of more developed brain connections. So from an applied perspective, the benefits of engaging in musical training include long-term visual, verbal, auditory, mathematical, and fine motor skills in children. Now, the evidence leads to indications of an actual effect on brain connections while simultaneously providing an age range most likely to benefit. As professionals in a field that promotes the welfare of children, I see such findings as a mandate to regularly advocate musical training.

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