Learning violin may ‘ease mental illness in children’

Learning violin may ‘ease mental illness in children’


norman lebrecht

January 02, 2015

The largest-ever study of musical training and brain development is said to support a theory that learning an instrument, especially the violin, can reduce mental illness in young children more effectively than medication.

The report, by a teams of psychatrists at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, is based on a national database of 232 brain scans of children aged six to 18.

The findings support a hypothesis by lead author James Hudziak that music practice affects  a layer of the brain associated with anxiety, depression and aggression.

Noting that three-quarters of U.S. high school students ‘rarely or never’ take extracurricular music and art lessons, the report warns:  ‘Such statistics, when taken in the context of our present neuroimaging results, underscore the vital importance of finding new and innovative ways to make music training more widely available to youths, beginning in childhood.’

gypsy children hungary violin



  • thekingontheviolin says:

    “Oy vot a suprisement” as my late grandfather would exclaim!

    “Dobro Outro” as my bulgarian wife would say (“Good Moring”)

    “Good Morning Mr.Magpie” as the late Dame Eva Turner would say….

    In other words rediscovering the wheel.

    These pseudo scientific studies make me sick.

  • JJC says:

    Hmmm. I could cite numerous cases in which it would seem to have had the opposite effect…

  • beckmesser says:

    “Learning violin may ‘ease mental illness in children’”

    That’s right, it transfers the mental illness — to their instructor.

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      “I was halfway through ‘Humoresque’ when Professor Zambini shot himself.”

      • Milka says:

        One hesitates to think what could
        have happened had Prof. Zambini heard Mr. Hlatky play “Humoresque”
        in its entirety, if hearing it played only in part by Mr.Hlatky could drive him to attempt to shoot himself .Mr. Hlatky should take great care and perhaps
        not play Humoresque.

  • James of Thames says:

    But no word on learning the viola?

  • Jim M says:

    Or paintbrush played like a violin?
    Van Gogh Code

  • Robert Holmén says:

    There was a time when most US students took some art or music lessons.

    Has child mental illness increased or decreased since that ceased to be true?

    I don’t know the answer, but finding it would bring either corroboration or refutation to this study.