First, Kraus found that kids who took music lessons for two years didn't just get better at playing the trombone or violin;
playing music also helped their brains process language. Consonants and vowels became clearer, allowing the brain to make sense of them more quickly.
This heat map speaks volumes:
Improving Your Ear For Music, And Speech
Learning to play an instrument appears to strengthen the brain's ability to capture the depth and richness of speech sounds.
These heat maps of brainwaves show how much music lessons improved kids' neurophysiological distinction of consonants.
The study's set-up was as remarkable as its findings. While Kraus and her Northwestern lab are based in Evanston,
Ill., she studied the brains of kids affiliated with the Los Angeles-based Harmony Project,
a nonprofit after-school program that teaches music to children in low-income communities.
So she and her team traveled to L.A. regularly, luggage full of scalp electrodes,
nd sat down with her subjects right there in the group's Hollywood offices.
To be clear, simply playing Mozart for your kids will not have the same effect.
It's still a fine idea. A little Mozart never hurt anyone, but Kraus found that the benefit comes from playing the harpsichord,
not listening to it.