Have you ever clapped along to your favourite song with thousands of other people at a really great concert? Or chanted and stomped your feet with everyone else at an intense hockey game? When we move together with other people, especially if it involves music, we tend to feel more connected to others and we are more likely to do nice things for them, such as helping and sharing. In our study, we wondered whether children who are taking group music lessons—who move and play music together frequently—would show these social skills more consistently. In other words, are children in group music lessons more likely to help and share than other children? To examine this question, we studied three groups of children: those who weren’t taking any music lessons, those who were taking private (one-on-one) music lessons only, and those who were taking group music lessons. We assessed social skills, as well as other related abilities and traits like memory, emotion understanding, and personality. As we predicted, children in group lessons performed better than the other groups on social skills, even when we took other important factors into account, like verbal understanding and participation in other (non-musical) extracurricular activities. Why is this the case? We’re not yet sure if children with good social skills are more attracted to group activities, or if group activities (especially music-making) actually improve these skills, but we think that both of these are probably true. We would sincerely like to thank all of the children, parents, teachers, and organizers who were involved in the study in any way – our research would not be possible without you!
In June, Tara presented a paper (co-authored by student research assistants Daniela Caruso and Jason Yuan) at the 13th International Conference on Cochlear Implants and Other Implantable Auditory Technologies in Munich, Germany entitled “Auditory and gestural influences on the song learning of deaf children with cochlear implants”.
Different kids have different interests. Some kids like to play sports, some love to draw, and some are happiest when they’re singing and dancing. But what attracts particular kids to certain activities but not others? In collaboration with Dr. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto, we wondered whether children’s personalities would influence their likelihood of taking music lessons and sticking with those lessons for many years. Read More