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Taking piano lessons and using math puzzle software significantly improves math skills of elementary school children.

Second-grade students were given four months of piano keyboard training, as well as time using newly designed math software. The group scored over 27% higher on proportional math and fractions tests than children who used only the math software.

Music involves ratios, fractions, proportions and thinking in space and time. The software - called Spatial-Temporal Animation Reasoning (STAR) - allows children to solve geometric and math puzzles that boost their ability to manipulate shapes in their minds.

The findings are significant because a grasp of proportional math and fractions is a prerequisite to math at higher levels, and children who do not master these areas of math cannot understand more advanced math critical to high-tech fields.

Reference: Neurological Research March, 1999