Web Exclusive: Music lessons pay-off long after you stop

(CNN) - Many of us as children were forced to learn the piano, violin or another musical instrument by our parents - only to ditch the practice after a few years. But did that early training have long-lasting effects on us?  

There are said to be health benefits to playing music, but what about those who only practiced a few years when they were young-- then gave it up? A new study from Northwestern University suggests that music really is the gift that keeps on giving, even if we didn't stick with it. The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, brings some sweet sounding news: you didn't have to have lifelong music training to reap the rewards.

Researchers found the benefits of any musical training can be seen later in life, slowing some signs of aging, specifically slowing down declines in your nervous system as you get older, which could affect your reaction time to sound and speech.

The study found that even just a moderate amount of musical training early in life, between 4-14 years, can help keep your neural reaction timing strong. Studies in the past had only shown such results in musicians who had devoted much of their life to music. Turns out the benefits are for everyone. So, learn early play often, it could pay off long after you stop.



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