For people who have hearing loss, the phrase “music to my ears” may take on a whole new meaning.
Exposing children to music can have a worthwhile effect on hearing as is highlighted by a joint study carried out by the University College London and the University of Helsinki.
Gauging Speech-in-Noise Performance
Researchers observed 43 young children in a 14 to 16 month study where they measured speech-in-noise performance. 22 of the children enrolled had normal hearing while the remaining 21 had cochlear implants. knowing that the children with implants had a hard time understanding speech perception before the start of the study, researchers introduced control and test sets, assigning participants to a non-singing (control) and singing (test) group.
The results showed a significant improvement in awareness and speech-in-noise performance for youngsters in the singing group compared to their counterparts in the non-singing group.
Music Trains The Ear
There is a tremendous amount of research showing the benefits to cognitive ability and speech processing offered by musical training and this research is only one of them. In loud settings, speech perception can be improved by musical training, and these findings were corroborated by a study carried out by the Montreal Neurological Institute
Identifying speech syllables through a number of background noises was the goal of this study which examined 15 musicians and 15 non-musicians.
The ages of the participants in the research by Drs. Yi and Roberts, unlike the Helsinki/London study, averaged 22 years old. These participants had normal hearing but there was a substantial difference in results between the non-musicians and musicians.
Musicians Outperform Non-Musicians
When the noise was missing, both groups had comparable results, but when any amount of background noise was added, the musicians substantially outperformed the non-musicians. Musicians have enhanced left interior frontal and right auditory regions of the brain which most likely accounts for this ability to perform well on these tests.
But the benefits of musical training revealed by Drs. Yi and Robert’s research don’t simply end there. The auditory motor network is fine-tuned and united to the auditory system and speech motor system by this musical training according to this research.
It’s significant to note that while the musicians studied were adults, they all began their musical education at a much younger age and amassed at least ten years of musical training. This again supports the recent assessment that musical training can have a profound impact.
The Impact of Hearing Loss on Beethoven
Some of the world’s most famous musicians and composers have struggled with hearing loss. Most notably, Ludwig van Beethoven who started to lose his hearing in his 20’s.
Although Beethoven’s young childhood musical education would be regarded as severe by present standards, the groundwork of the training might have been the gateway to prolonging his career as a composer. As a matter of fact, Beethoven actually spent the last decade of his life almost totally deaf. Despite that, many of his most cherished pieces came during his last 15 years.
Can children with hearing loss benefit from music and singing?