A recent study suggests that keeping a steady beat is closely linked to better language skills. The researchers indicate that practicing music could improve other skills, especially speech.
Over 100 teenagers were asked to tap their fingers along to a beat. Their accuracy was measured by how closely their responses matched the metronome. Next, the team measured the brainwaves to observe the electrical activity in the brain in response to sound. The more accurate the adolescents were at tapping along to the beat, the more consistent their brain response was to the speech syllable.
“Rhythm is an integral part of both music and language,” Kraus says. “It seems that the same ingredients that are important for reading are strengthened with musical experience. Musicians have highly consistent auditory-neural responses. It may be that musical training – with its emphasis on rhythmic skills – can exercise the auditory-system, leading to less neural jitter and stronger sound-to-meaning associations that are so essential for learning to read,” added Prof Kraus.