University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Learning to Play the Piano Whilst Reading Music: Short-Term School-Based Piano Instruction Improves Memory and Word Recognition in Children

Price-Mohr, R. and Price, Colin ORCID: (2021) Learning to Play the Piano Whilst Reading Music: Short-Term School-Based Piano Instruction Improves Memory and Word Recognition in Children. International Journal of Early Childhood. ISSN Print: 0020-7187 Online:1878-4658

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There is a substantial body of evidence that demonstrates links between language and music and between music and improved cognitive ability, particularly with regard to verbal and working memory, in both adults and children. However, there is often a mix of type of musical training and instrument used and use of musical notation. The research reported here uses a randomised controlled trial with 32 novice children, aged seven, learning to play the piano with both hands whilst reading music notation. The intervention was conducted in a school setting, each child receiving in total four hours of instruction. Results confirm previous findings that short-term music instruction improves working memory. Results also demonstrated that children with this musical training outperformed controls on a word identification measure. Overall, the results show evidence for a causal relationship between music learning and improvements in verbal skills. The significant differences occurred after only one term of instruction and were stable 3 months post-intervention.

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Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: memory, digit span, piano, reading music, word recognition, literacy
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > Worcester Business School
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Copyright Info: Open Access article
Depositing User: Colin Price
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2021 09:27
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2021 09:27

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