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Tapping to Music May Help You 'Hear' It

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Moving to the beat of music actually helps you hear the music better, according to a new study.

Researchers at McMaster University in Canada played a series of regular beats for study participants, half of whom tapped on an electronic drum pad while they listened while the other half listened without tapping.

The participants were asked whether the final beat was consistent with the preceding rhythm, and those who tapped while they listened were 87 percent better at detecting the rhythm change than those who didn't tap.

"We found that tapping along while listening does more than help us feel and enjoy the music. It actually helps us hear it better," Michael Schutz, an assistant professor of music, said in a McMaster news release.

He and his colleagues also found that participants who tapped to the beat were more confident in their answers about the rhythm change.

The findings, presented at the recent Acoustics Week in Canada conference in Quebec City, are important for music listeners, performers and educators, according to Schutz.

"From a young age, we teach students to move to the music while performing, and now we know at least one reason why this is beneficial," he said. "This study sheds light on why moving while playing helps musicians keep time and improves their overall performance."

Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The American Music Therapy Association explains music therapy and its benefits.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: McMaster University, news release, Oct. 18, 2011

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