Music helps to improve kids learning

Advocating the introduction of music classes into school curriculum, a new research has states that learning to play musical instruments has positive effects on the brain and it helps children improve their learning and understanding of language. The research, which is a review of several studies on the benefits of music, suggested that connections between brain cells are established during musical training that can help in other forms of communication, such as speech, reading and understanding a foreign language.

"The effect of music training suggests that, akin to physical exercise and its impact on body fitness, music is a resource that tones the brain for auditory fitness," said the researchers, at the Northwestern University (NU) in Illinois, who carried out the review.

They said, the studies showed that society should "re-examine the role of music in shaping individual development" and schools should consider boosting efforts to incorporate musical training into the curriculum, LiveScience reported.

Studies have shown such training leads to changes in the brain's auditory system. For example, pianists show more brain activity in their auditory cortex -- the part of the brain responsible for processing sounds -- than non-musicians in response to hearing piano notes.

Musicians also have larger brain volumes in areas essential for playing a musical instrument, including motor and auditory regions, the researchers said. They found that these advantages of music training appear to cross over to our understanding of speech.

Speech and Music have quite a bit in common. They both use pitch and timing to get information across, and both call for memory and attention skills to process, they said. Some studies proved that children with musical training have more neural activity in response to changes in pitch during speech than those without such training.

Youngsters 'picking up more keyboards and guitars'

A growing number of schoolchildren are opting to pick up instruments such as the drums and electric guitar , a new report has suggested.

According to research carried out by Professor Sue Hallam and Dr Andrea Creech of the University of London, the musical taste of young people is being dictated to an extent by what they hear on radio, television and over the internet.

"The impact of technology … has been profound, with some instruments becoming 'endangered' in schools while requests to play others, such as the electric guitar, electronic keyboards and kit drums, have increased dramatically," their report stated.

However, folk singer Dafydd Iwan told Wales Online that other musical instruments may yet regain their popularity as trends move in cycles and young people are often very responsive when exposed to different genres of music.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the Hard Rock Cafe in Cardiif has teamed up with children's charity The Sparkle Appeal to encourage more people to donate their old musical instruments to the non-profit organisation's new centre.

Sony E450 MP3 Player launched with Lyrics‎ & Karaoke Mode

Sony MP3 players have always been a major threat to the iPod range, and now the new Sony NWZ-E450 range presents itself as a huge rival.

The range boasts a massive 50 hours of MP3 music playback whereas the iPod Nano only offers 24 hours. The E450 range also offers a massive 10 hours of video playback when compared to only 5 hours on the Nano. This super cool range also offers a new feature called Lyric Sync which displays the words to the track playing on the 2 inch QVGA LCD screen. It also includes a Karaoke Mode for those who want to be the lead singer, as the voice volume of the original is reduced so your own voice replaces it and you become the pop star!!

It is available in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB storing up to 3,700 tracks and in a range of funky colors such as pink, red, blue, black and green.

The range is available in August and prices are to be confirmed.