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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02616

Orff-based music training enhances children’s manual dexterity and bimanual coordination

  • 1Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação, Universidade do Porto, Portugal
  • 2Faculdade de Desporto, Universidade do Porto, Portugal

How music training and expertise influence non-musical abilities is a widely researched topic. Most studies focus on the differences between adult professional musicians and non-musicians, or examine the effects of intensive instrumental training in childhood. However, the impact of music programs developed in regular school contexts for children from low-income communities is poorly explored. We conducted a longitudinal training study in such communities to examine if collective (Orff-based) music training enhances fine motor abilities, when compared to a homologous training program in sports (basketball), and to no specific training. The training programs in music and sports had the same duration, 24 weeks, and were homologous in structure. A pre-test, training, post-test and follow-up design was adopted. Children attending the 3rd grade (n = 74, 40 girls; mean age 8.31 years) were pseudorandomly divided into three groups, music, sports and control, that were matched on demographic and intellectual characteristics. Fine motor abilities were assessed with the Purdue pegboard test (eye-hand coordination and motor speed, both subsumed under manual dexterity, and bimanual coordination) and with the Grooved pegboard (manipulative dexterity) test. All groups improved in manipulative dexterity, that was not affected by type of training. On bimanual coordination and manual dexterity, however, a robust and stable advantage of music training emerged. At the end of training (post-test), children from the music group significantly outperformed children from the sports and control groups, an advantage that persisted at follow-up four months after training at the start of the following school year. Also, at follow-up none of the children from the music group were performing below the 20th percentile in the Purdue pegboard subtests and more than half were performing at the high end level (> 80th percentile). Children from the sports group also improved significantly from pre- to post-test but their performance was not significantly different from that of the control group. These results show that an affordable, collective-based music practice impacts positively on fine-motor abilities, a finding that is relevant for a better understanding of the impact of music in childhood development, and that may have implications for education at the primary grade.

Keywords: music training, sports training, fine motor abilities, manual dexterity, bimanual coordination, Children

Received: 10 Aug 2018; Accepted: 05 Dec 2018.

Edited by:

Graham F. Welch, UCL Institute of Education, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

James H. Humberstone, University of Sydney, Australia
Beatriz S. Ilari, University of Southern California, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Martins, Neves, Rodrigues, Vasconcelos and Castro. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Sao Luis Castro, Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal,