The relationship between musical ability and literacy skills
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Many researchers have shown that a relationship exists between phonological awareness and literacy skills, and a recent study has shown a relationship between musical skills and reading. It has also been shown that a structured programme of musical activities can be used to help children develop a multi-sensory awareness and response to sounds, and that training in musical skills is associated with improved reading skills. This thesis reports on a two-year study to expand the previous work. Fifty one children in their fourth year at primary school took part in the first year of the study. Two groups of children, matched for initial reading ability, were seen weekly. One group (intervention) participated in musical activities, the other control group in verbal activities. In addition, two boys with specific learning difficulties were put on an intensive experimental regime. The remainder of the children formed an unseen control. The results showed similar trends to the earlier study, but the intervention did not lead to significant gains in reading. Because the outcome of the work with the two boys with severe reading difficulties proved to be particularly interesting, the second year of the study focused on children who had already been identified as dyslexic. The training programme in the second year of the study was similar to that used for the two boys with special needs in the first year of the project. While the results of the study did not support the hypothesis that musical activities in the classroom significantly improve literacy skills, there were indications that some improvements had taken place.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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