Learning Piano in Preschool Boosts Long Term Math Skills

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Looking for ways to help your child excel long-term in algebra and calculus? A new study suggests starting your child on piano lessons when they are in preschool.

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The Byrnes are real visionaries. We certainly foresee these programs as having a huge impact on the field of early childhood education and future college readiness.

Looking for ways to help your child excel long-term in algebra and calculus? A new study released by the University of Louisville suggests starting your child on piano lessons when they are in preschool.

According to the study conducted by Barbara M. Burns and her research team at the University of Louisville’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, preschoolers learning to play the piano showed significant gains in visuo-spatial intellect -- the ability to form mental images, visualize graphic representations, and recognize relationships of various objects to one another -- each the essential building blocks for subjects like calculus and physics.

From August 2004 through Spring 2005, University researchers studied some 40 preschool students partaking in the pilot Piano Math Keys® program at Louisville Latin School (formerly The Plainview School, Inc). By the end of the 9-month school year, the number of preschooler’s scoring in the 75th percentile or "above average" on the Test for Early Math Abilities (TEMA) increased from 12.10% to 42.40%, a 247% increase. This compared to a 50% increase by the control group.

According to school officials, as children discover the joys of piano, brain neurons are connecting to form the types of complex thought patterns necessary to excel in math and science. These connections form, strengthen, and advance each child’s spatial intellect and thus their higher math abilities. But by about age 5, neurons not connected into the brain’s overall wiring begin fading away -- and so does the opportunity for intelligence in that area of the brain. "The Piano Math Keys program has clearly shown to move more students into the 75th percentile in math," said Burns.

The idea to use piano as a way to boost math skills came from a 1997 University of California Irvine study that reported a 46% spatial increase in 3 and 4 year old children learning piano. "But no one was using the research and turning it into real everyday programs for preschoolers," said school founder Theresa A. Byrne, who along with her husband Jeff and school music teacher helped develop the Piano Math Key’s program.

"Here, we have created a piano lab just for preschooler's and integrated it into our overall preparatory curriculum," said Byrne.

"While the University of Louisville study seems to confirm similar results as the California Irvine study, clearly more long term research is needed," said Byrne. With the pilot phase of the program now complete, the Piano Math Keys® program will become a standard part of each preschooler’s curriculum in the new $2.2 million Prospect Latin School, an independent Christian academic preschool program being opened by Byrne at 8907 US Hwy 42 this January (http://www.prospectlatinschool.org).

According to Burns, "The Byrnes are real visionaries. We certainly foresee these programs as having a huge impact on the field of early childhood education and future college readiness."

For information about this release, contact Mrs. Theresa Byrne, President of the Board of Trustees, Prospect Latin School, 8907 U.S.Highway 42, Louisville, Kentucky 40059, 502-292-0123.

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