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Can Music Lessons Close the 'Achievement Gap'?

Atlantic magazine describes work of Nina Kraus, Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory

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October 10, 2013 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- An article in the October issue of Atlantic magazine outlines some of the groundbreaking research of Northwestern University neuroscientist Nina Kraus and a handful of other researchers around the country documenting the power of music instruction on the brain.

In particular, it features work that Kraus and researchers from her Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory do as part of the Harmony Project, winner of the nation’s top honor for providing music instruction to at-risk youngsters in underserved Los Angeles communities.

Traveling to LA a few weeks each year, the scientists examine the impact of music lessons on the brain and on the children’s language and cognitive skills. Previous research has documented the positive impact of musical experience acquired primarily through private instruction. Kraus says that school-based group music education may be a way to close the well-documented “achievement gap” between affluent and poor children.

“There are few controlled, longitudinal studies like Kraus’s that follow kids year after year and examine music’s impact on brain structure and function as it’s happening,” the Atlantic writes. Go online for the complete article.