Music skills 'can help children's reading'

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The Independent Online
MUSICAL training helps children to learn to read, according to new research from Dundee University.

The study carried out in Fife schools showed that musical ability and reading ability are related and that reading can be improved by musical activities.

Sheila Douglas, a music advisory teacher, and Peter Willatts, a senior lecturer in psychology, tested a group of 78 eight-year-olds from two schools. The results showed that good readers and spellers also scored higher on music tests.

The pupils were given standardised reading and spelling tests. To test pitch, they had to say whether the second of 10 pairs of sounds was lower or higher than the first. For rhythm they had to say whether patterns played on a wooden block were the same or different.

The study, published in next month's issue of the Journal of Research in Reading, says: 'The results showed that rhythm was significantly related to reading ability and to a lesser degree, spelling ability.'

It continues: 'While it is not being suggested that training in music is essential for good literacy skills, it does seem plausible to propose that children who have already been identified as having difficulty with reading might benefit from a structured programme of musical activities.' To test their theory they took two groups of eight-year-olds in a third Fife school. One group was given extra musical activities; the other had no music training but was taught to improve their discussion skills. The reading ability of the first group had improved after six months while that of second group stayed the same