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Study: Playing music could improve kids' brains

Researchers at Northwestern University may have the key to your child's academic success: enrolling them in music classes.

The researchers studied 44 children who were enrolled in the Harmony Project, a Los Angeles program that offers free music lessons to low-income students, for two years. For the study, which was published this week in The Journal of Neuroscience, the researchers monitored the children's brain changes with scalp electrodes.

They found that musical training over a two-year period altered the children's brains, making it easier for them to process sounds. The brain improvement that resulted from the music lessons helped the children improve their skills in school subjects including reading and speech, according to The Associated Press.

Even the children noticed the benefits — one of the study's participants, 11-year-old America Flores, told her mother that she'd improved her math skills after playing music, because she knew how to "divide notes into fractions and count them out in measures," AP reports.

For your brain to improve with musical training, you can't just listen to music, though — the researchers reported that you have to actually play an instrument to reap the benefits.